Senate, House energy committee approves bill calamity fund bill for power coops

Senate, House energy committee approves bill calamity fund bill for power coops

The bicameral conference committee on energy has approved the bill that will give a dedicated calamity fund – initially at P750 million – for power cooperatives in the aftermath of natural calamities.

The Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund Act was approved by the Senate-House committees on energy after deliberating on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 1461 and House Bill No. 7054.

The bill will now be submitted to Malacañang for implementation.

The law will create a fund that will provide financial assistance to 121 electric cooperatives (ECs) for the restoration and rehabilitation of power facilities and infrastructures damaged during typhoons, earthquakes and other natural calamities and fortuitous events, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said.

“They now have a fund they can use to immediately to restore power and the cost of repairs will not be passed on to consumers,” Gatchalian said.

Initially, P750 million will be allocated for the fund this year.

“So that’s the initial fund for 2018, depending on the situation this year that might increase or decrease. We will give the flexibility to Congress to dictate how much will be appropriated every year,” Gatchalian said.

In the current set-up, electric cooperatives (ECs) will take up interest-bearing calamity loans from state-run National Electrification Administration (NEA), which will then be passed to member consumers.

With the new fund, consumers affected by the natural calamities will no longer be burdened, Gatchalian said.

“At the same time 11 million member-consumer nationwide will benefit from this,” he said. “They now be protected from absorbing rehabilitation and reconstruction of electric cooperatives.”

The initial fund will come from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) fund.

The senator said that the NDRRMC Fund has around P7 billion for rehab and restoration and the amount to be taken out under the new law will be exclusive for electric cooperatives.

“Hopefully it will be signed before the State of the Nation Address (SONA) so we can tell the good news to our 11-million member-consumers,” Gatchalian said.