Senator Win Gatchalian said that P250 million funds under the current budget has been allocated from which electric cooperatives in typhoon-devastated areas can avail of to finance rehabilitation works on damaged power lines.
Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, bared this as he called on the electric cooperatives to seek aid under Republic Act 11039, otherwise known as the Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund (ECERF), to hasten the restoration of power supply in typhoon-ravaged communities.
Power and communication lines are down in most parts of Catanduanes and Albay, two provinces badly affected by the onslaught of super typhoon Rolly. Reports say it may take at least 2 months to restore power in Albay since more than 70% of electric poles throughout the province were severely damaged.
“Kailangang tulungan nating maibalik agad ang kuryente at linya ng komunikasyon sa mga apektadong lugar. Isa sa mga maaantala nito ay ang pag-aaral ng mga estudyante na gumagamit ng internet para sa distance learning,” said Gatchalian.
After typhoons Quinta and Rolly, the country now prepares for tropical storm Siony which experts predict to intensify while possibly making landfall between Thursday night and Friday morning.
The ECERF, which is administered and managed by the National Electrification Administration (NEA), is allocated exclusively for the restoration or rehabilitation of electric cooperatives’ (ECs) or distribution utilities’ (DUs) damaged infrastructures after a fortuitous event or force majeure.
The ECERF, which was signed into law by President Duterte in June 29, 2018, has an appropriation of P250 million for 2020 which has remained unused as of June 30, 2020, Gatchalian said.
“Electric cooperatives and distribution utilities can draw funds from ECERF to enable them to repair their facilities as quickly as possible. A lot of electric poles were toppled by typhoons Quinta and Rolly. They can tap these funds in seeking financial assistance from the government,” the senator, who principally authored and sponsored RA 11039, said.
“This is a response fund. We have to utilize this in anticipation of situations like these. They can quickly restore power lines without having to worry about the pass on costs to the customers they serve,” the senator explained.