THE Senate Committee on Energy is considering using the P204 billion Malampaya fund to reduce the universal charge and ease the burden of consumers on their monthly electricity bill.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the committee, said the move could result in household savings of as much as P2,033 annually.

Gatchalian’s committee on Monday discussed Senate Bill 924, authored by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, which seeks to allocate the net national government share from the Malampaya Natural Gas Project for the payment of the stranded contract costs (SCC) and stranded debts (SD) of the National Power Corp.

The SCC and SD are components used to compute the universal charge imposed on consumers under Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

During the hearing, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. said the use of the P204 billion Malampaya fund would prevent a power rate increase of P0.84 per kilowatt-hour (KWh).

For a household consuming 200 kwh per month, this would translate to an annual savings of P2,033.

“These savings are enough for an underprivileged household to buy two additional sacks of rice every year,” Gatchalian said.

He however made it clear that the proposal would be subjected to further study to determine how much of the remaining Malampaya funds should be applied for the purpose.

Gatchalian also admonished the Energy Regulatory Board for its failure to immediately act on the approval of SCC and SC rate application that resulted in power rate increases.

The Senate panel learned that the delay resulted in an additional P34.78 billion costs that was passed on to consumers at P0.1973 per kWh.

Gatchalian said no clear explanation on the delay was given by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Krisha Buela of the ERC said the regulatory agency was reviewing its procedures.

“I’m telling you that there’s a problem in your procedures. It’s a P34-billion problem to be shouldered by the Filipino people,” the senator told ERC officials.

Gatchalian also reiterated the need to pass SB 1490 or the ERC Governance Act that seeks to promote transparency and accountability in the deliberations and decisions of the country’s independent power sector regulator.