Add’l P550 million proposed for repair of typhoon-damaged power lines

Published November 27, 2020, 2:13 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

An additional P550 million allocation had been proposed in the P4.506 trillion budget of the Philippine government, so extra financial resources can be funneled into the repair of power lines damaged by calamities.

Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian had pushed for that cash shoring up in the budget of government-run National Electrification Administration (NEA), being the agency overseeing the country’s 120 electric cooperatives.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The fund allotment, according to the lawmaker, shall be integrated in the Electric Cooperatives Emergency Resiliency Fund (ECERF), which this year just cornered P250 million budget.

Gatchalian said the additional funding for the repair of power lines and infrastructure in the electricity sector would be critically needed, given the torrent of disasters that started with the Taal volcano eruption at the start of the year; then the series of typhoons that barreled the country especially in recent weeks.

“Considering the extent of damage left behind by the series of typhoons that devastated several areas in the country, the original proposed appropriation for ECERF would not suffice to cover the cost of repair work for the ECs,” he stressed.

Based on calculations submitted to the Senate committee on energy, it was stated that the scale of damages to power facilities already hovered at P829 million as of November 16 this year.

By far, the ECERF was earmarked P250 million this 2020; while for next year, the initially proposed budget had been at P200 million; hence, that was targeted to be given an increase of additional P550 million.

The ECERF, which is under the administration of the NEA, is an institutionalized fund that the electric cooperatives can readily access if they would need cash resources for the speedy repair of their facilities

that are stricken or toppled by disasters.

The lawmaker said the additional funding is justifiable, “to assure availability of funds in times of any fortuitous event or force majeure in the coming year.”

He emphasized it shall be the national government that must bear the cost for the repair of these damaged power facilities and infrastructure, and for the industry to avoid passing these on as added cost to the consumers.