Duterte EO tweaks strategy to achieve 100 percent electrification by 2022

Published December 11, 2021, 2:18 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Malacañang is looking to implement changes in its electrification game plan in a bid to achieve 100 percent electrification of the country by 2022–the last year of the Duterte administration.

(Kai Gradert/ Unsplash)

President Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No.156 on Friday, Dec. 10 in order to institutionalize the tweaked strategy, which includes transferring the power to step in and take over ailing electric cooperatives (ECs) from the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to the Office of the President (OP).

A copy of the EO, titled “Instituting measures to ensure consistent and reliable electricity service in inadequately served areas, improve performance of ineffective distribution utilities, and achieve total electrification of the country,” was sent to Palace reporters Saturday morning.

“While electrification of the entire country is one of the primary concerns of the government, certain distribution utilities (DUs), as well as ailing electric cooperatives, continue to underperform, and thus hamper government efforts for the country’s total electrification,” the EO stated.

NEA’s mandate is the ensure the country’s total electrification by providing financial, institutional, and technical services to the ECs to make them more efficient, reliable, and globally competitive. The agency was created in 1969.

Last August, Duterte announced the sacking of NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong for allegedly allowing ECs to contribute funds for a party-list’s campaign in the 2019 elections.

“There is a need to utilize rapid advancements in technology which have facilitated the development of integrated systems such as microgrids, distributed energy resources (DERs) and other alternative service providers, where the nature of production, delivery, and consumption of electricity can be controlled and operated on a smaller scale suitable for unserved and unviable areas,” the EO highlighted.

With this, Duterte, through the four-page document, ordered the Department of Energy (DOE) to “identify unviable, unserved, undeserved and poorly served areas (collectively, ‘Inadequately Served Areas’) within the franchise areas of [DUs]”.

The energy department was also told to mandate all DUs to submit within 30 days from the effectivity of the EO a comprehensive electrification master plan or CEMP for the total electrification of their respective franchise areas.

“The DOE may modify or reject a submitted CEMP if it is not in accordance with the objective or total electrification or if it will not provide the highest quality and least cost of service for providing electricity,” the Palace directive read.

In a hearing at the House of Representatives on June 5, 2020, Masongsong reported to lawmakers that as of December 2019 or just before the emergence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), 95 percent of homes in the Philippines have already been given access to electricity. He said only 1.8 million households remain unenergized.

Duterte is set to finish his term as president on June 30, 2022.

Meanwhile, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) was ordered by Duterte to promulgate rules in computing rates that allow full cost recovery for the facilities built by microgrids, DERs and other alternative electric service providers.

It was also mandated to issue corresponding guidelines for the registration of microgrids, DERs, and other alternative service providers; and to impose fines and penalties against non-compliant DUs and recommend to Congress the revocation of their franchises, as may be warranted.

As for NEA, the agency was directed to submit a report to the OP, through the DOE, on the status of ailing ECs, as defined under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) No. 10531, including the measures that were undertaken to restore the economic and financial viability of their respective operations.

It was also told to coordinate with the DOE and “extend necessary assistance to enhance distribution development in pursuit of the total electrification of the country”.