Win Tayong Lahat

WIN sa balita

Review of PH electrification plan needed

ANTIPOLO CITY, RIZAL, Philippines – A couple appreciates the “sea of lights” from a hillside spot in Antipolo City as Metro Manila glows at night, 23 March 2018. With roughly 2.4 million households, or 16% of households in the country still not connected to the power grid, Senate Committee on Energy chairman Senator Win Gatchalian is calling for a comprehensive review of existing strategies to improve the government’s efforts on its total electrification agenda. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian is calling on the Senate to review the government’s electrification program, with the aim of assessing existing strategies in closing the gap in the number of households across the country that still doesn’t have power.

“We want to check on the status of electrification of the country to assess and possibly revise the national electrification strategy,” said Gatchalian in filing Senate Resolution No. 695, claiming that the assessment would be helpful in “achieving total electrification for the welfare of the Filipino people and the development of the nation”.

At present, the government is employing three methods in pursuing the total electrification agenda. The first is through grid extension by electric cooperatives, which is carried out by the National Electrification Administration (NEA). The second is by missionary electrification in off-grid areas, which is being implemented by the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR). The last method is through the entry of qualified third parties in remote and unviable areas.

The said methods are being subsidized either through government appropriations or pass-on charges to consumers through the universal charge for missionary electrification.

The senator explained that from 2016 to 2018, the government allocated PHP 5.45 billion for sitio electrification and PHP 3.97 billion for the supply of electricity in missionary areas. In addition, around PHP 73 billion has been remitted from the universal charge for missionary electrification collection, as of December 2017.

Despite all efforts however, Gatchalian stressed that as of December 2017, a total of 2,399,108 of unserved households were not connected to the power grid, equivalent to 16% of households in the entire country. The majority of this number are found in Mindanao (1,345,116 households), while Luzon and the Visayas share the remaining half (529,952 and 524,040 households, respectively).

“It is necessary to review the national electrification project of the government by identifying which communities are economically viable for grid extension, how much government appropriations are necessary to complete the extension, and in how long the construction can be accomplished,” he said.

“It is likewise important to know,” he added, “which communities are best for off-grid electrification, what technologies are suitable for them, and how fast the entry of qualifies third parties in the remote and unviable areas can be facilitated.”