How I got free electricity from Meralco

Meralco electric bill shows zero charge for September 2017. (JRT)

In September last year, I got billed zero pesos for electricity.

That’s right: I paid nothing for my power consumption for one month in 2017.

The energy I used was so low it fell into the subsidized category (or the lifeline rate of 100 kilowatts and below, which is the amount of energy poor households use)*.

As a result, my electric bill was paid for by richer households — those who consumed substantial amounts of electricity and could afford it.

At that time, I was in transition — I was tying up loose ends in a company where I worked in order to go freelance and part-time.

During that period, I may have spent an inordinate amount of time at the office, which in turn cut my energy consumption at home for the simple reason that I wasn’t there.

It also helped that I had begun to practice what can be loosely called my weak — and perhaps even cheap — attempt at minimalism, a movement made popular by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, among others.

For the past three years, I have decluttered my closets and shelves, throwing out magazines and books — unread and otherwise — that no longer resonated with or held special appeal for me, whatever the critics or my friends said.

More to the point, I sold my old, beat-up refrigerator for a song last year, after the compressor — which broke down after it was fixed for the third time — failed to keep things cool. The decision to sell was easy: the appliance didn’t store anything but drinking water anyway.

As soon as the ref left my apartment, my energy requirements fell significantly, helping explain why I got a free pass from settling my bill in September.

But make no mistake: to this day, I still kick myself for being unable to store food longer than 24 hours, let alone keep beer ice-cold. And that’s not very cool at all, when you think about it.

Section 73 of the Philippines’ Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) mandated a socialized pricing mechanism to be enjoyed by poorer households for ten years after the law’s enactment in 2001. In 2011, this provision was extended for another ten years, benefitting more than two million Filipinos, according to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report. [See: EPIRA]

Jovidel R. Tabuena (@_ourdailybrad on Instagram) works part-time, reads books full-time, and is half-asleep most of the time.

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