MANILA – The National Electrification Administration on Friday gathered some 290 representatives from 113 electric cooperatives to tackle the industry’s pressing concerns and draft a policy that would allow private investors to establish micro-grid systems in areas rural areas.
The proposal is part of the country’s rural electrification program (REP).
The Electricity Forum was held at the NEA Headquarters in Quezon City.
NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong wanted to make sure that the arrangement would be amenable to the electric cooperatives (ECs) and their member-consumer-owners for the speedy implementation of the REP.
“We have long been under the electric cooperative system. Some ECs have been around for the last 30 years and some up to 48 years. Why is it that we are still relying on the government to provide a budget for electrification?” Masongsong asked.
This is the reason why there is a need to draft a policy which will entail the participation of private companies to energize service areas where the ECs cannot, according to Masongsong.
In effect, the new policy will follow the same principles as that of the Qualified Third Party (QTP) mechanism of the Department of Energy (DOE) for investors who are interested in putting up generation and distribution in far-flung areas of the country.
Atty. Goldelio Rivera, NEA Deputy Administrator for EC Management Services, clarified that the waiver being sought is only temporary and limited to the rights and obligations of an electric cooperative to provide electricity services over certain areas.
The proposed guidelines were met with mixed reactions from the stakeholders and some had reservations citing fears that it might lead to unfair competition in the long run.
The NEA chief took all these reactions into account and asked National Association of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives (Nagmec) President Sergio Dagooc to come up with a final draft of the ECs’ collective stand on the issue.
Masongsong expects their output in two weeks before the NEA finalizes its proposed guidelines and maintains that for now, NEA is standing by its argument that although rural electrification is a government program, it has to be supported with public funds.
“If government will not fund it, will not subsidize it, then the dream of achieving 100 percent electrification in the country will never be realized unless the private sector will really invest in it even if it’s a losing proposition,” Masongsong said.