THE Department of Energy (DoE) has set a Thursday deadline for comment on a draft circular that will set the guidelines on how electric cooperatives will be compensated in cases when their distribution or sub-transmission lines are to be relocated to give way to government construction projects.
The draft circular is a follow through of a joint circular issued by the DoE and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that took effect on July 27, 2017.
In that circular, jointly issued by the DoE, the DPWH, and the National Electrification Administration (NEA), electric cooperatives (EC) are given a year to remove or relocate any improperly placed facility in the government’s right-of-way area, subject to compensation.
“After the lapse of the prescribed one-year period, the NEA shall demand from the concerned EC (electric cooperative) to relocate an Obstructing Facility at its own expense. Otherwise, the NEA, with the assistance of the DPWH, shall relocate the Obstructing Facility at the expense of the EC, including the imposition of legal sanction, if any,” the 2017 circular states.
The DoE said “notwithstanding the positive effect caused by the issuance of JC1 (Joint Circular, No. 01), there is a need to issue a new Circular to facilitate the relocation of Obstructing Facilities that still exist after the lapse of the aforesaid one (1) year period.”
The draft circular will create an inter-agency task force for the final implementation of Section 13 of the joint circular previously issued by the DoE and DPWH.
The task force is empowered with functions to coordinate, integrate, supervise, monitor and evaluate the carrying out the provisions of the circular. It will be chaired by the DoE undersecretary for power, with DPWH and DoE assistant secretaries as vice-chairpersons. A representative of NEA is a member of the task force.
Under the draft circular, NEA is directed to submit within the prescribed period an inventory of all obstructing facilities nationwide. Based on the inventory, the task force will demand that the concerned EC immediately remove the obstructing facilities from the government’s right-of-way.
The affected EC will then submit to the appropriate DPWH office its relocation plan to determine the proper compensation. Within 15 days, NEA will certify whether it agrees with the EC on the cost estimate.
Only ECs that submitted their relocation plan by April 30, 2019 are entitled to receive compensation, provided that all relocation activities do not go beyond Dec. 31, 2019. — Victor V. Saulon