The National Electrification Administration (NEA) is appealing to local government units (LGUs) to settle their unpaid electricity bills to power coops as they have the potential to fund energization efforts especially in underserved and unserved areas.
LGUs’ unsettled bills have reached over P1.43 billion, according to NEA’s latest figures.
LGUs in Luzon posted the biggest amount of unsettled payments with P1.034 billion, followed by those in Visayas with P366.617 million, and LGUs in Mindanao with P30.897 million.
NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong asked LGUs to address the issue of unsettled electricity bills owed to electric cooperatives (ECs), highlighting that the “unpaid amounts may be used to bring power to hundreds of sitios yet to be served by electricity all over the country.”
“We emphasize that this plea for payment should not be taken negatively as a reproach. Our LGUs are now in a uniquely privileged position to be instrumental not only in keeping their electric cooperatives financially afloat but in electrifying the unserved and underserved communities in their jurisdictions. They should grab this opportunity to viably partner with electric cooperatives in nation-building,” he said.
Some of the unpaid power bills to ECs were incurred by some government institutions such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), as earlier reported by the Department of Energy (DOE).
Last October, DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi called on the AFP and PNP to pay their outstanding debts that amounted to P17 million to 23 ECs.
AFP owed P10.9 million, while the PNP owed P5.3 million.
The DOE signed an agreement with the AFP, PNP, Philippine Coast Guard and the National Bureau of Investigation for the settlement of their outstanding debts.
Masongsongl said news of national government agencies’ debts resulted in further investigation that revealed the debt incurred by LGUs for unpaid use of power, which remained uncollected for years.
“The good Secretary’s statements, when he issued that gentle reminder to the armed services of the government to settle their outstanding bills was somehow unprecedented, at least for us in the rural electrification movement. Ikinatuwa ng mga electric cooperative ‘yon,” Masongsong said.
Once all the unsettled accounts are paid, it can be used to fund and jumpstart electrification projects of ECs, the agency said.
“That’s the reason we’re making this urgent appeal now to our LGUs and concerned local government executives. This is an opportunity to set good examples by settling their unpaid bills. Non-compliance has adverse effects on the operational performance of their respective power utilities. Let’s turn this challenge into an opportunity to achieve greater rural electrification in the countryside,” Masongsong said.