Issue of January 6, 2019
     
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Aid to calamity-stricken utilities a relief to electric cooperatives
by Jane B. Cadalig

Electric cooperatives are looking forward to the relief that will be provided them by the implementation of Republic Act 11039 or the Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund (ECERF) Act.

Benguet Electric Cooperative Network Services Department Manager Melchor Licoben said the law, which provides financial aid to electric coops affected by calamities, would help in ensuring that distribution utilities operating as non-stock, non-profit fulfill their mandates.

The law, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in June last year, allots an initial fund of P750 million to be availed of by electric coops for the restoration or rehabilitation of their damaged facilities caused by disasters induced by natural hazards, such as typhoons or man-made induced ones like war.

In the case of Beneco, Licoben said that the amount of damage incurred by the electric coop increases every year.

He said in 2015, Beneco incurred P8M worth of damages due to the typhoons that hit the Cordillera. In 2016, the worth of damages incurred by the electric coop amounted to P17M, which further increased to P35M in 2017.

Licoben said most of the damages incurred by Beneco during typhoons is caused by landslides that bury or wash away the electric poles and trees that fall on the distribution lines. 

He said the fund assistance will also ease the burden of member-consumers who shoulder the cost of rehabilitation of the electric coops’ damaged facilities through their bills.

The ECERF law recognizes that electric coops affected by disasters need financial assistance to enable them to immediately restore electricity services as the absence of electricity is a national security issue.

The P750M initial fund, which will be coursed through the National Electrification Administration, will be allotted from the National Risk Reduction and Management Fund that is appropriated from the General Appropriations Act.


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