PASAY CITY – The National Electrification Administration (NEA) disclosed that the government needs at least P23 billion to guarantee full energization of unviable areas in the country by 2022.
However, NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong explained to the Senate committee on Energy chaired by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian that based on current trends in the budget being earmarked by the government for rural electrification, the targeted full energization of unviable areas around the archipelago cannot be realized, thus, the need for concerned government agencies to venture into other forms of intervention to realize the availability of electricity to every household.
Based on the data presented by the NEA during the Senate committee on Energy public hearing on the state of the government’s Sitio Electrification Program (SEP), there are some 19,740 sitios around the country still unenergized while there are some 1.925 million households that do not have access to power as of June 30, 2018.
Masongsong added that of the unenergized sitios the energization of some 3,950 sitios have already been provided in the previous and current budgetary allocations of the concerned government agencies, while the remaining 15,740 unenergized sitios need at least P23 billion to guarantee their energization up to 2022.
He disclosed that in terms of energization the government was able to achieve an average of 88.3 percent energized households, equitably distributed all over the country.
Last year, NEA proposed a P5.2 billion budget for the implementation of the government’s rural energization program but only P1.8 billion was included in the 2018 annual budget for the implementation of the electrification programs, which is way below the proposed funding requirement.
By next year, the government’s rural electrification budget was further reduced to P1.163 billion which will only translate to the energization of some 775 sitios, way below the projected number of sitios that will be eletrificed to achieve full energization in the country in the remaining 4 years of the present administration.
From 2011 to 2016, Masongsong reported to the concerned stakeholders that there were over 34,000 sitios energized through the aggressive implementation of the SEP which is way above the 32,000 sitios that were targeted to be energized during the said period.
According to him, electric cooperatives waived some 943 unviable areas within their franchise areas around the country. Only 3 areas were taken by the private sector for energization while 9 areas are still undergoing the process of being taken over by the interested private sector groups.
Gatchalian agreed with Masongsong that the government cannot accomplish country energization by the end of the term of the present administration but there is also a need to continuously empower interested private sector partners to prove the viability of energizing the unviable areas through the use of whatever applicable systems of bringing power to the remote villages.
By Dexter A. See