THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) has lent P975.54 million to at least 26 electric cooperatives (ECs) as of the end of November.

According to the NEA, the loans exceed its P700-million target for releases this year by 139.36%.

Of the total, P474.69 million funded the capital expenditures of 19 ECs particularly those in Mindanao, the NEA said, citing a report by its Accounting Management and Guarantee department.

Nine ECs, meanwhile, borrowed around P438 million for working capital. Misamis Oriental I Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. borrowed P12.85 million for its modular generator set. The remaining P50 million was used by Lanao del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. for short-term credit.

The NEA offers financial assistance to ECs through its Enhanced Lending Program, which consists of regular, calamity and concessional loans, stand-by and short-term credit loans, single-digit system loss loans, renewable energy loans, and modular generator set loans.

Last month, the NEA, whose mandate is total rural electrification — began the procurement process for power generated by natural gas-fired plants for use of ECs.

The Department of Energy (DoE) asked the NEA in October to help organize a competitive selection process (CSP) for power generated by indigenous natural gas, which is meant to be a transition fuel for ECs.

In its 2023-2032 National Total Electrification Roadmap, the DoE identified 285 unserved areas and 122 underserved areas in off-grid locations which will be prioritized for tender to private sector investors through CSPs.

The DoE has pre-qualified nine entities for the upcoming auction for microgrid service areas to serve off-grid areas. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera