Government urged to adopt unified electrification program in rural areas

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is seeking a unified electrification program to expedite the powering of the remaining over one million households mostly located in rural communities.

“It’s deplorable that in this time and age, over one million rural households in the country are not able to reap the many benefits of electrification,” Gatchalian said.

Currently, the electrification of households in the country is being undertaken by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) through its Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) and the Department of Energy (DOE) through its Total Electrification Project (TEP).

However, Gatchalian said the DOE still downloads the money to NEA and to the National Power Corporation (NPC).

“There has to be a clear policy on which agency is responsible in pursuing rural electrification and that is why we need to harmonize all existing programs for electrification. Sa nangyayari kasi ngayon, dina-download pa ng DOE ang budget para sa NEA at NPC na nagpapatagal pa ng proseso,” he said.

Despite various electrification programs undertaken over the past decades, Gatchalian noted that total electrification of all households in the country continues to be unfulfilled.

Based on the DOE’s data, the household electrification level stands at 95.56 percent as of March this year.

While the electrification rate in Luzon stands at 98.71 percent and 96.97 percent in the Visayas, Mindanao has only 86.39 percent electrification rate due to the low electrification level of electric cooperatives.

Most households without electricity are located in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Sulu provinces.

The lawmaker said one of the reasons why he pushed for the Microgrid Systems Act is to accelerate the electrification of underserved and unserved areas in the country.

Enacted into law in January of this year, the law seeks to promote the use of microgrid systems and the provision of quality, reliable, and secure electricity service at reasonable rates in unserved areas or those with no electricity access and underserved areas which are currently served by distribution utilities whose supply is less than 24 hours daily.