The National Electrification Administration (NEA) has backed the appeal of electric cooperatives (ECs) to extend the deadline of their payment of dues and remittances to power generation and transmission companies indefinitely or until the business operations have normalized.
This due to the bill collection ability of the ECs have been affected by the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which affected their financial ability to settle their accounts.
The situation has worsened due to the latest announcement of Malacañang to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon by April 30, pushing NEA to support the EC’s urgent appeal.
Masongsong said the ECs have used their collections from February 26 to March 24 to settle their bills during the first cycle, and the concern of the EC now is the billing from February 26 to March 25, which is due to April 25.
“The ECs will have difficulty in settling power bills covering this cycle due to limited collection from March 15 to April 14,” he said, citing the 30-day extension granted as well to electricity consumers with bills due the same period in deference to the strict ECQ measures.
In addition the NEA has also recommended the approval of the ECs request “to invoke the ‘force majeure event’” provision in their power supply agreements, as they cannot fully use the contracted capacity rate of 100 percent during the crisis period.
“With this billing adjustment, the surge in the generation cost component, which will be passed on to consumers will be mitigated,” Masongsong said.
However, Masongsong encourages all ECs to still remit a proportional amount collected, payable to their power suppliers.
Masongsong said this is “to ease the burden [on] our industry players, as we fully understand that the generation and transmission sectors cannot be isolated from the economic consequences of this pandemic.”
ECs are also looking into the possibility of subsidizing electricity needs of poor families whose primary sources of income have been affected by the coronavirus disease.
“The ECs are exploring all means to continuously deliver electricity services to their respective consumers, as well as mitigate the cost of electric consumption by accessing funds for the possible implementation of ‘Pantawid Liwanag,’” Masongsong said.