DOE commitment to total electrification questioned

By Ronnel W. Domingo – 05:12 AM August 30, 2019
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Department of Energy (DOE) was called out during a Senate energy committee hearing for its apparent lack of preparedness to meet the government’s target of universal access to electricity within the Philippines, according to Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian.

Gatchalian, who chairs the committee, said this happened during a recent hearing on Sen. Bill No. 175, which is the proposed law that pushes the use of microgrid systems for yet unenergized areas across the archipelago.

The lawmaker said in a statement the DOE had not yet submitted its comprehensive rollout plan in pursuing the country’s total electrification agenda, despite the agency’s promise to provide them with concrete data during previous hearings as early as 2016.

Gathalian noted that there were still more than two million households in the country —about 16 percent of total—that needed access to electricity.

“We are waiting for your (DOE’s) commitment but 2022 is fast approaching,” he said. “We need to have that kind of strategy and we need that kind of budget.”

Earlier this week, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) said Malacañang was asking Congress for just P1.5 billion to bankroll the agency’s sitio electrification program. NEA’s own proposal is for a budget of P6.1 billion.

NEA administrator Edgardo Masongsong said there were still close to 15,000 sitios or hamlets that had no electricity, and this would need P22 billion in funding.

The DOE itself is asking for a 2020 budget of P2.3 billion, of which P500 million will be used for electrification projects.

“Our budgetary request will support plans and programs that would help ensure the security of our country’s energy future, increase access to energy services and technologies, further uphold consumer welfare, and facilitate the efficient implementation of new energy policies such as the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, the Murang Kuryente Act, and the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop Act,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.