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Activate electric coops fund in Ompong-hit areas

MANILA, Philippines – Dark looming clouds roll over Manila, 15 Sept 2018, as Typhoon Ompong barrels through northern Luzon over the weekend. At least 2,253,230 households in 334 municipalities and 7,160 barangays were adversely affected by Typhoon Ompong, with 1.2 million households still disconnected from their power supply. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to make full use of the new Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund (ECERF) to jump-start efforts to normalize the power supply in provinces ravaged by Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) over the weekend.

The ECERF, established by Republic Act 11039 (the ECERF Act) this past June, is a P750 million fund administered by NEA for the purpose of providing immediate financial assistance to electric cooperatives for the rehabilitation of power lines and other electricity infrastructure damaged during calamities such as Typhoon Ompong.

“NEA must immediately activate the ECERF and prioritize the quick disbursement of emergency funds to electric cooperatives serving the areas most hard-hit by Ompong,” said Gatchalian, the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy.

“This law was passed precisely to empower electric cooperatives to quickly turn on the lights again as soon as possible after calamity strikes. Now that the law is already in effect, I expect nothing but the swift and complete restoration of electricity in the 21 provinces affected by the typhoon,” he added.

NEA said in its latest power monitoring report that at least 2,253,230 households in 334 municipalities and 7,160 barangays were adversely affected by Typhoon Ompong when it barreled its way across Northern and Central Luzon over the weekend. As of Tuesday, NEA reported that power has been restored to over 54 percent or 1.2 million households while 1,036,503 households continues to live in darkness in the aftermath of the deadly storm.

The same data provided by the NEA showed that a total of 23 electric cooperatives suffered tripped power lines and damage to their distribution facilities across Luzon. The initial estimated cost of damage sustained by electric cooperatives is ₱138,146,427.

The senator also gave electric cooperatives a stern warning against attempts to burden their member-consumers with the rehabilitation costs of damaged infrastructure through additional pass-on charges in the monthly electricity bill.

“Kaya nga tayo gumawa ng batas gaya ng ECERF Act at naglaan ng pondo para sa ganitong mga okasyon ay para maibsan ang mga dinadalang problema ng ating mga kababayan na nasalanta ng bagyo,” he said.

“We will continue to monitor the normalization of the power supply in affected provinces so as to ensure the rapid recovery of our countrymen from this natural calamity,” he added.