NEA backs DoE plan to review performance of power co-ops

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THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) said it supports plans by the Department of Energy (DoE) to review the performance of electric cooperatives, but added that the function is currently being performed by NEA.

In a statement on Thursday, NEA said it supports the decision of the DoE to withdraw its recommendation to the House of Representatives (HoR) to cancel the franchises of 17 electric cooperatives (ECs).

“Consistent with its mandate under Republic Act 10531, the NEA will, moving forward, conduct a thorough performance review of the ECs involved — a task regularly performed by the NEA based on set parameters or key performance standards — and submit the results of the same to the DOE and the HOR for their appreciation and evaluation,” the NEA said.

NEA issued the statement after the DoE on Wednesday said that it would conduct the review with objectivity. The department also said that it would seek to identify the problems besetting troubled cooperatives.

On Friday, the DoE said it had ordered the review of electric cooperatives’ financial and technical performance and warned about franchise cancellations for those that failed to deliver.

However, its call for review was followed by a statement from Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (Philreca) claiming that the DoE had already endorsed the revocation of 17 franchises in what the group called a “treacherous” act that disregarded due process.

The DoE later on Friday said that the “earlier recommendation to Congress has been withdrawn two days ago.”

Energy Undersecretary William Felix B. Fuentebella, who acts as the DoE spokesman, said the DoE “sees the need to further evaluate and assess the present status and performance of the 17 electric cooperatives.”

On Wednesday, DoE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said there will be due process for all electric cooperatives.

“Our priority is to address the root causes of their problems and help in their rehabilitation so they may provide the quality of services consumers in their franchise areas truly deserve,” he said.

But Mr. Cusi said that for extremely dire cases, the government can no longer ignore the negative impact on citizens. Other reasonable and legal options, as provided in Republic Act 10531 or the National Electrification Administration Law, must be considered.

The DoE enumerated ECs that have been “chronically failing to provide satisfactory services required by their electric distribution franchise.”

These include the cooperatives in Davao del Norte, Albay, Basilan, Camarines Sur III, Catanduanes, Lanao, Masbate, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Pampanga III, Sulu, and Zamboanga. — Victor V. Saulon