RURAL utilities posted a collective rise in energy sales and revenues between April and June on increased power usage of their residential consumers.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic that generally led to reduced power demand, electric cooperatives sold more electricity in the second quarter, increasing by 12% to 5,988 gigawatt-hours (GWh) over the first quarter, according to the latest report of the National Electrification Administration (NEA).

The increase in energy sales was mainly attributed to the 9% uptick in electricity consumption by the residential sector to 3,693 GWh, according to NEA Administrator Edgardo R. Masongsong.

However, the community quarantine still dragged down power consumption of both commercial and industrial customers by 6% to 982 GWh and 3% to 957 GWh, respectively. Power usage in public buildings and other consumers of electric cooperatives also fell by 1% to 356 GWh.

Data from the NEA’s information technology and communication services department also showed that the power distributors in the countryside generated P54.074 billion in revenue, or a 9% increase over the previous quarter.

Mr. Masongsong also noted the sharp decline in energy sales and revenues of power utilities in Aklan, Benguet, Palawan, Bohol, and Siargao Island -— all which are highly dependent on tourism — because of quarantine policies imposed in their areas.

Aklan Electric Cooperative (Akelco) booked a huge drop in energy sales by 20%, which is equivalent to P149 million in revenues, followed by Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) that recorded an 18% dive in sales and a P145-million loss.

Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) saw a 9% decrease in power sales and incurred P53 million in losses. Bohol I Electric Cooperative (Boheco I) sold 6% less electricity in the period and earned P50 million, while Siargao Electric Cooperative (Siarelco) posted an 8% slump in sales and incurred a P7-million loss.

NEA said it had extended more loans to struggling electric cooperatives than it could provide as of September. It disbursed a total of P364.542 million in various loans since the start of the year, or around P120 million more than its 2020 loan provision target. The bulk of the money lent was used to finance capital expenditure projects of 11 electric cooperatives.

Still, the agency was able to collect P773.91 million in loan payments in the first six months of the year. — Adam J. Ang