By Mario Casayuran
Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said on Thursday the signing by President Duterte of a measure into law strengthens resiliency among electric cooperatives as it institutionalizes government support and financial assistance during times of disaster.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law this week Republic Act 11039, known as the Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund Act.
Gatchalian said the signing of RA 11039 is an important milestone in maintaining stability in the power supply of the 122 electric cooperatives nationwide in the wake of natural calamities and other emergency situations,” Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate energy committee and principal author of the law in the Senate, said.
Gatchalian said RA 11039 establishes the Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund (ECERF), which will be administered and managed by the National Electrification Administration (NEA).
The government shall allot funding to the ECERF under the national budget to be used exclusively for the restoration or rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure of electric coops, he explained.
For the initial implementation of the law, the government shall allocate P750 million pesos, which shall be taken out of the P7 billion peso budget of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF), and will be released to NEA’s Quick Response Fund for the smooth distribution to qualified electric coops.
“Essentially, we are arming electric cooperatives with the capacity to quickly restore power in the homes and businesses of the 11 million consumers they serve, without having to impose pass on charges. Ayaw nating dagdagan pa ang pasanin ng ating mga konsyumer na bumabangon mula sa anumang kalamidad,” Gatchalian said. (We don’t want to place added burden on consumers hit by disasters.)
The law also requires each electric cooperative to submit to NEA a Vulnerability and Risk Assessment, Resiliency Compliance Plan, and Emergency Response Plan in order to gain access to ECERF.
NEA shall also be responsible for monitoring and evaluating the use and disbursement of the ECERF. It also has the role of crafting a comprehensive National Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Plan (NECERP) based on all submissions of electric coops, which in turn shall form part of National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Plan (NDRRMP).
Through this law, Gatchalian said he is hopeful that electric cooperatives would develop strong disaster preparedness, mitigation, and response measures.