NEA seeks ₱1-B aid for power coops

By MYRNA M. VELASCO – December 19, 2019, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

Government-run agency National Electrification Administration (NEA) is seeking ₱1.0 billion worth of financial assistance that must be funneled to the electric cooperatives wrecked by recent typhoon “Tisoy,” primarily in the Bicol region.

The electrification agency said that level of assistance is roughly the extent of damages that the electric cooperatives have also suffered from in the recent weather disturbance.

NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong has formalized his request for the funds through a correspondence that he sent to the Department of Budget and Management.

In the letter, he pleaded on the release of funds “for the rehabilitation and restoration of electricity service by the 27 electric cooperatives whose distribution facilities were severely damaged by the typhoon.”

Masongsong stipulated “to address the urgency of the need to rehabilitate and restore electric service in the coverage areas of these ECs, the NEA and its partner-ECs are requesting/appealing for the much-needed financial assistance in the form of subsidy or grant from the national government in the amount of P1.0 billion.”

He expounded that the internally generated funds of the ECs “cannot cover such funding requirement since their rate structure as approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) does not include any provision for capital expenditure attributable to the damage caused by calamities.”

The NEA has cited this week’s report of its Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Department that “the initial cost of the damage to the ECs’ infrastructure from the typhoon has ballooned to an estimated P899.632 million.”

If gauged from that, the scale of damages that the power utilities sustained had even been higher than the P750 million allocation under the legislated Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund.

As noted by NEA, it was Sorsogon Electric Cooperative-I which logged the most costly damage at P137.5 million; followed by Albay Electric Cooperative Inc. at P134.487 million; then Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative at P123.421 million.

The others posted infrastructure damage amounting to P88.058 million for Northern Samar Electric Cooperative; P56.6 million for Masbate Electric Cooperative Inc.; and P55.441 million for Sorsogon II Electric Cooperative Inc.

Meanwhile, NEA noted that it is expecting “80-percent restoration of power in all affected areas by December 20,” given the round-the-clock repair work being undertaken on the damaged facilities.