Power entities vow to help DOE provide electricity to marginalized communities

by Lenie LecturaJuly 8, 2016

from Business Mirror

INDUSTRY stakeholders are willing to assist Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi reach his goal of providing electricity to marginalized people at a reasonable price.

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) said it has recently achieved its target of providing power to more than 32,000 sitios.  Also, NEA Public Affairs Office Head Judith T. Alferez said under the previous administration, the government provided free housewiring connection for 60 houses per sitio.

“I hope this policy can still be implemented under President Duterte’s term,” she said, when sought for comment. At end-March, the target of 32,441 energized sitios, and 247 more, was officially met by the NEA and its partner electric cooperatives. A total of 722 enhanced barangay power-distribution systems were accomplished by the same partnership from October 2011 to March 2016.

“This is the government’s way of embracing Filipinos, especially those far from the metropolis and have been enduring their communities’ lack of electricity for a very long time,” NEA Administrator Edita S.  Bueno said.

Data showed household electrification is lowest in Mindanao at 72 percent; 90 percent in Luzon; and 92 percent in the Visayas.

The National Power Corp. (NPC) said it had devotedly carried out the electrification of island communities and other so-called missionary areas, or off-the-grid communities.

NPC President Ma. Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita said the main grid cannot reach these areas and are the most marginalized in the country.

“NPC has the mandate and the resources to assist the goal of the new energy secretary to make power available to the marginalized sector.

“Mainly due to its diminished role in the national agenda of electrification, NPC still maintains a national network of SPUGs, or Small Power Utilities Group, of plants and utilities that continues to assist the government’s national electrification program until we can confidently claim the entire country is 100-percent electrified,” she said in a text message.

The Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the country’s largest power distribution utility firm serving over five million customers, said it would do whatever is possible to speed up electricity connection to the marginalized sector.

“Meralco will make it possible to fast track connection so electricity could be delivered as soon as possible,” ts president Oscar Reyes said in an interview.

Meralco officials met with Cusi recently to discuss how the former can help achieve the DOE’s target to achieve 100 percent household electrification nationwide by the end of its six-year term.

One way of helping achieve this is through Meralco’s Prepaid Retail Electricity Service (PRES).

This scheme enables customers to monitor their electricity consumption, balance, credit purchase history and account information.

Those who subscribed to Meralco PRES have experienced savings in their power consumption compared to postpaid service.

Meralco has so far installed some 27,000 prepaid meters as of last month out of the 40,000 units that were initially approved for roll out by the ERC.

During the meeting, Cusi also recommended to Meralco to check on the “relocation sites because these are potential fire hazards.”

“Let us not wait for the Local Government Units to resolve problems. Let us help especially the marginalized. I want the general public to feel that the government is doing something to better their lives by providing adequate electricity with lower rates so they will be able to afford other necessities such as more food on the table,” Cusi said in a statement the other day.

“I will let my team coordinate with Meralco. Let’s have weekly meetings. Let us coordinate also for disaster preparedness, initiate a joint task force especially during the rainy season,” Cusi said.