Lack of funds hinders coops’ recovery from disasters

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    The National Electrification Administration (NEA) said lack of fund hinders the full implementation of the Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund (ECERF) Act aimed at assisting electric cooperatives (ECs) that have incurred damage from calamities.

    Edgardo Masongsong, NEA administrator, said the initial amount of P750 million that the ECERF Law promised to provide to rehabilitate facilities of disaster-stricken ECs is yet to be provided under the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

    “As much as we want to implement the ECERF Law, funds are still not available at the moment,” Masongsong said in a statement.

    Enacted last year, the law seeks an orderly and continuing means of financial assistance to ECs in the form of grants for the immediate restoration or rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure after a fortuitous event or force majeure.

    Efforts are ongoing to speed up the restoration of power in provinces in the aftermath of Typhoon Tisoy even if initial cost of damage to EC facilities has already reached P896.421 million.

    “Power line reconstruction to electricity restoration has been done by the NEA in coordination with the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. and its regional associations in the deployment of line workers,” Masongsong said.

    ECs from Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and the Cordillera Administrative Region have sent 162 line workers with boom trucks and equipment to assist their fellow power distribution utilities in the typhoon-hit provinces.

    Eastern Visayas ECs also sent around 100 line workers, trucks and equipment to Northern Samar while ECs from Western Visayas deployed 51 line workers, trucks and equipment to Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro as CALABARZON power coops sent 26 workers with boom trucks and equipment to Oriental Mindoro.

    Based on its power monitoring report as of Tuesday, NEA’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Department, reported an estimated 1,083,523 households in 17 provinces in Luzon and the Visayas covered by 27 ECs are still waiting to have power distribution service restored.

    Power was already fully restored to 103 typhoon-hit cities and municipalities but electricity service is partially restored to 133 cities and municipalities, while restoration is still ongoing for the remaining 76 cities and towns.