No funding for emergency power restoration

By Myrna M. Velasco – December 12, 2019, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

If consumers in typhoon-hit areas have been waiting longer for their power service to be brought back, that is because the emergency funding intended for such lacks financial resources.

National Electrification Administration (NEA) Chief Edgardo Masongsong said “the initial amount of ₱750 million promised to rehabilitate the facilities of disaster-stricken electric cooperatives is yet to be provided under the 2019 General Appropriations Act.”

The NEA administrator is referring to the Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund (ECERF) under Republic Act 11039 that had been aimed at aiding power utilities of which services had been cut-off or adversely affected by natural calamities, such as the recent typhoon “Tisoy” that primarily ravaged the Bicol region.

He stressed that “as much as we want to implement the ECERF law, funds are still not available at the moment.”

The law, as intended, should have been providing much-needed financial assistance to ECs thumped by calamities, so their customers could be warranted faster restoration of their electricity service.

The ECERF law has tasked the electrification agency “to manage and administer the ₱750 million allocation to be taken from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) fund,” and shall correspondingly be distributed to the qualified ECs.

Even with scant funding though, Masongsong indicated that restoration of power service in areas affected by typhoon “Tisoy” still continues.

He qualified that “power line reconstruction to electricity restoration has been done by the NEA in coordination with the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (PHILRECA) and its regional associations in the deployment of line workers.”

The ECs that sent teams to help in power restoration include those from Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Cordillera Administrative Region. These power utilities sent 162 line workers with boom trucks and equipment “to assist their fellow power distribution utilities in the typhoon-hit areas,” according to NEA.

Additionally, ECs from Eastern Visayas deployed 100 line workers, trucks and equipment to Northern Samar; while the power utilities from Western Visayas sent 51 line workers, trucks and equipment to Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro.

Electric cooperatives from the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal areas also dispatched 26 workers with boom trucks and equipment to Oriental Mindoro.