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Marinduque Rep. Velasco to energy sector: Protect public interest amid pandemic

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Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco reminded the energy stakeholders to rise up to face the challenges brought by the coronavirus disease pandemic while considering interest of the public.

In the House of Representatives’ Energy Committee hearing last Wednesday, Velasco reminded energy regulators like the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), to generation companies (GenCos), transmission, and distribution utilities (DUs), to always “calibrate their planned measures” in mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to protect the interest of the public.

In an earlier high-level virtual energy meeting last April 24 with DOE Secretary Al Cusi and ERC Chairperson Agnes Devanadera, Velasco likewise underscored the need to give assistance to “lifeline consumers” who usually belong to the poorest of the poor.

Velasco also noted that the lockdown may have skewed the definition of “lifeline consumers” since most people are staying at home and consuming electricity in the households.

The Marinduque solon also sought the reassurance that consumers be given a grace period of several months to settle their electric bills.

As co-chairperson of the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC), Rep. Velasco says that together with his Senate counterpart, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, they have scheduled a hearing with energy stakeholders next Friday to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the energy sector; the initiatives to address the pandemic; and medium- to long term-projections for the energy sector in light of COVID-19.

As part of its oversight functions the JCEC might also inquire into recent reports of overbilling and compel energy stakeholders to find a solution that would best serve their consumers and stakeholders.

Velasco says that as we hunker down to weather the ravages of the current pandemic and the ensuing “new normal,” we could only do so successfully by “working together and keeping in mind that the best way forward for the energy sector lies in what is in the best interest of the consuming public and the Filipino people.”