THE Department of Energy (DoE) has identified six regions with electrification levels falling below 80% where private ventures will be encouraged to help bring power to barangays, sitios and households.
“The regions can be served by private corporations in partnership with the distribution utilities,” Energy Undersecretary Felix Wiliam B. Fuentebella told reporters on Wednesday after a Senate hearing.
In a statement, the DoE said of the six underserved regions, four are in Mindanao — the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, with an electrification rate of 27.4%; SOCCSKARGEN at 65.6%; Zamboanga peninsula at 67%; and Davao region at 68.2%. The SOCCSKARGEN region covers South Cotabato, Cotabato City, Cotabato Province, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City.
The other two are the now-defunct Negros Island Region, which has since reverted to the Western Visayas, with a rate of 79.3%; and MIMAROPA with a rate of 79.9%. The MIMAROPA components are the Mindoro provinces of Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, as well as Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.
Mr. Fuentebella said there are other areas in the country where the distribution utility has waived its electrification franchise in favor of a qualified third party and open to participation from the private sector. If these areas are not attractive for investment, state-led National Power Corp. (Napocor) can come in with its missionary electrification program, he added.
The DoE said it was determined to bring electricity to three million households more “at the soonest possible time” through its total electrification program (TEP).
The department is seeking a budget of P2 billion for 2019 to intensify efforts to provide electricity access throughout the country.
“We are aggressively pursuing initiatives catering to the unserved and underserved areas of the country to promote inclusive growth. This initiative supports Ambisyon Natin 2040 — providing a strongly-rooted, comfortable and secure life for all Filipinos,” DoE Secretary Alfonso C. Cusi said during a budget hearing at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The DoE said that based on the 2015 census, it estimates a household electrification level as of end-2017 at 88.3%, with 21 million of the 24 million households in the country having access to electricity.
In the department’s proposed 2019 budget, the TEP accounts for about 25% representing an initial allocation of P505 million. The DoE said it will align its efforts with the National Electrification Administration, Napocor, the distribution utilities and other energy to provide power to about 14,320 households. — Victor V. Saulon