Lopez-led Energy Development Corporation (EDC) has handed over P4.16 million electrification fund to Negros Oriental I Electric Cooperative (NORECO I), a power utility servicing the host community of the power generation firm.
The company said the fund remittance is part of the province’s financial benefit under the Energy Regulations (ER) 1-94, being the host local government unit (LGU) of EDC’s 222.5-megawatt Southern Negros geothermal facility – that includes its Green Core Geothermal Inc. subsidiary in Valencia, Negros Oriental.
The allocation of such financial benefit to the community, according to EDC, is in line with the prescriptions of Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), Republic Act 7638 or the Department of Energy Act; and DOE Circular No. 2018-08-0021.
Such policies require power generation companies and/or resource developers like EDC to allocate ER 1-94 benefits to communities hosting their power projects – and that shall be equivalent to P0.01 per kilowatt-hour on their electricity sales.
Last year, the DOE as the administrator of the ER 1-94 fund, also issued a Circular directing the host communities to use part of their fund allocation in the country’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Jose Jovileo D. Acabal, general manager of NORECO-1, the fast delivery of the ER 1-94 funds would be “a big help in funding crucial projects in our areas.”
On the part of EDC, Norreen G. Bautista, head of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) team in Negros, indicated that “being able to directly disburse our partner communities’ benefits as hosts to our geothermal facilities provides us with the opportunity to forge a stronger partnership with them as we work together to not only provide reliable, clean, stable power to more Negrosanons but to also help them thrive even during this Covid-19 pandemic.”
As emphasized under existing policies, at least 50-percent of the P0.01 per kWh shall be funneled to the electrification or energization of communities within the host-LGUs.
It was emphasized that “the funds should be applied to the host barangays, host municipality, host province, host region and the distribution utility’s other prioritized areas,” as approved by the DOE.
Accordingly, the generation companies are required to turn over the electrification fund to the distribution utilities (DUs), which will then be responsible in opening a trust account and for administering the fund.