Duterte: Firms must join rural electrification drive

By Jordeene Sheex Lagare – March 13, 2018
from The Manila Times

President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to allow the private sector to participate in the complete electrification of rural areas in the Philippines.

In a statement on Sunday, DoE said the President told Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and Erc Chairman and CEO Agnes Devanadera in a meeting on March 6 that he wanted barriers blocking private companies from entering areas unserved or underserved by electric cooperatives (ECs) to be removed.

According to Cusi, President Duterte wants emerging technologies to be used in far-flung villages that have no power.

“The DoE is fully committed in pursuing his directive,” he added.

The department is now crafting a policy on this matter, which includes inventory and standard compliance,
Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said in a text message on Monday.

It targets to issue the policy by mid-2018, he added.

The President’s instruction came a month after the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and ECs vowed to complete all pending state-funded rural electrification projects in four years.

During a meeting at NEA headquarters in Quezon City, NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong urged power cooperatives to devise strategies to increase efforts in meeting the government’s goal of achieving energy access for all.

Although much needs to be done, NEA Deputy Administrator for Technical Services Artis Nikki Tortola had assured ECs of the agency’s commitment to help them complete the projects.

ECs, meanwhile, promised to support the government’s Rural Electrification Program by fast-tracking the implementation of the Sitio Electrificiation, Barangay Line Enhancement, and Household Electrification programs.

NEA data show that 19,740 sitios still have no electricity as of this month. Of this number, 8,535 are in Mindanao, 6,541 in Luzon, and 4,664 in the Visayas.

NEA and ECs aim to energize 1,817 sitios this year: 560 in Luzon, 552 in the Visayas, and 705 in Mindanao.
The agency had asked P5.076 billion from the government to finance 3,626 electrification projects—each cost P1.4 million—under the Sitio Electrification Program for 2019.