The Energy Regulatory Commission promulgated on December 15, 2010 the Rules Implementing the Discounts to Qualified Senior Citizen End-Users and Subsidy from Subsidizing End-Users on Electricity Consumption under Sections 4 and 5 of Republic Act No. 9994.
Under the Implementing Rules, to avail of the discount, residential senior citizen customers must meet the following conditions:
(a) The monthly residential consumption must not exceed 100 kwh; if the consumption exceeds 100kwh in any given month, the senior citizen is not entitled to the discount for that particular month;
(b) The meter must have been registered in the name of the senior citizen for not less than one year;
(c) The grant of senior citizen discount shall apply per household regardless of the number of senior citizens residing therein;
(d) The senior citizen must apply personally or through an authorized representative to the distribution utility, and must submit proof of age and citizenship, such as birth certificate or senior citizen’s ID, proof of residence, copy of the electric bill in the name of the senior citizen, and proof of authority if applying through a representative.
A senior citizen’s center or residential care facility may also apply for the discount by submitting a copy of its accreditation with the Department of Social Work and Development and proof of operation for at least six months.
A consumer may apply for transfer of electric service contract to avail of the senior citizen discount, provided that the requirements mentioned above and the necessary documents to effect the transfer of electric service are submitted.
The Implementing Rules provide the formula for computing the discount to be given to senior citizens, which under the law is a minimum of 5% discount for senior citizens, and at least 50% discount for senior citizens center and residential care/group homes.
The Implementing Rules also provide the formula for calculating the Senior Citizen Subsidy Rate to be charged to all “subsidizing end-users” which is defined under the Rules as referring to “non-senior citizen and non-qualified senior citizen end-users who shall bear the discounts extended to qualified senior citizen end-users [except lifeline customers].” Under the Rules, the Senior Citizen Subsidy Rate shall be calculated and billed each month to all subsidizing end-users based on the total amount of discounts given to senior citizens during the previous month. The discounts given to senior citizens are, therefore, ultimately passed on to the consumers, who are not senior citizens, and is not borne by the distribution utility or the government. This is in contrast to the senior citizens discount given on other types of goods or services, such as medicine or food, where the discount may be deducted from the gross income of the establishment for income tax purposes, which means that it is the government which bears the discount in the form of lower tax collection. Given the high cost of electricity in the past months or years, this is another addition to the ordinary consumers’ electricity bill which they can ill-afford in these hard times.