DELIVERING uninterrupted supply of electricity at affordable prices to all communities across the country has been taken by the new Department of Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi as a priority challenge.
Let us assure the communities we serve supply of electricity 24/7; and let us strive, work hard, in finding ways to bring down our cost of power, he said as he addressed the annual general membership meeting of the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperative Association (Philreca) in Davao City on Wednesday which was also his first speaking engagement as the Department of Energy (DOE) chief.
DOE, he said, is looking for ways to expand rural electrification and disaster preparedness of electric cooperatives (ECs), thus adjusting, as President Rodrigo Duterte has directed, to the needs of the people, especially those in the marginalized sector.
“We are seeing the vast potential of electrification in making a difference in the lives of our countrymen,” he stressed.
DOE’s transition report claims that the National Electrification Administration (NEA) already met its 100 percent Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) target with a total of 103,000 sitios electrified in March this year. However, there are still those who have “yet to see and enjoy light,” Cusi noted.
The secretary had met early this month with some of the Philreca members to discuss the issues and concerns of the electric cooperatives from which he learned there are issues like right-of-way, tax reforms and the non-privatization of major government power assets, etc., need to be dealt with.
Addressing Philreca on Wednesday, he vowed to streamline policies and processes to encourage competitiveness, promoting ease in doing business for the industry especially here in Mindanao and in the far-flung areas.
“Given that President Duterte has declared power development as a critical driver of our growth, we will see to it that your concerns are immediately responded to, to allow you to fast track rural electrification,” he said.
He also called on electric cooperatives to be compliant in their Distribution Development Plan (DDP) for the continuous improvement of their operations. DDP, he pointed out, “is a very critical tool in pushing forward our advocacies for empowering people, as this will open up opportunities in your areas, such as the establishment of small businesses through power development.”
About disaster preparedness, Cusi said: “Let us learn from the challenges we had, aim to improve and give the best service to the people.” Given that it is typhoon season once again he ased ECs to assess and outline a disaster preparedness plan.
NEA, he said, has defined a Policy on Electric Cooperatives’ Resiliency Program which seeks to enhance design and construction standards of ECs’ distribution assets in anticipation of the increasing intensity of typhoons,” Cusi said.
The Policy directs electric cooperatives to establish buffer stocks of materials, build a regional pool of line men and electricians who will undertake power restoration works, so that no utility is caught flatfooted in emergency situations in order to mitigate difficulties of the consumers during power rehabilitation activities.
“We have to exert more effort to reduce systems loss in order to lessen the cost of delivery of power to electricity consumers. On our part, we are looking at Malampaya fund to compensate the stranded cost and stranded debts, which are being passed on to consumers. We have to prioritize the welfare of our consumers,” Cusi added.