The Senate energy committee on Monday slammed the budget reduction of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) electrification program, claiming 300 sitios will suffer.
In a meeting with NEA, energy committee Chairman Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said he disapproved of the budget cut, leaving NEA with less than P 1 billion from its initial proposal of P 1.6 billion for 2019.
As a result, the energy committee pressed NEA and the private sector to accelerate the establishment of power plants in rural areas.
Private firms could partner with NEA for the construction of the micro-grids in remote areas of the country, similar to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) program of the Aquino administration.
Some electric wires could not reach some of the isolated areas, Gatchalian said the private sector should construct these plants without any expenses to the government.
“It’s a special arrangement with the DOE (Department of Energy). This is called qualified third party that would be allowed to put up power lines in the islands. It’s already in place under the EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform Act) . What is bugging the arrangement is misunderstanding with the electric cooperatives,’’ the solon said.
Gatchalian said he does not agree with the NEA budget cut by government.
The electrification program is still needed to serve the remaining 2.7 million residences that do not have power connection. Out of those 2.7 million, 1.5 million are in Mindanao, the home island of the President.
The electrification program is essential to help isolated Filipinos fight poverty, he added.
Every year, the NEA has been targeting to power sitios since there are still 19,000 sitios without access to power. To keep in line with the administration’s deadline, NEA would have to accomplish total electrification within the next five years.