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  • By : Delmar O. CariƱo
  • Jul 02, 2020

Electric coops urged to be ready for new normal

Electric cooperatives (ECs) in the Cordillera must not lag behind the demands of the new normal which have upped the ante beyond ensuring the availability of electricity and the energization of the remaining sitios in the countryside.

The marching order for all ECs now is to exploit what electricity can bring for countryside development in terms of tapping the potentials of ECs for internet services and other business opportunities, Edgardo Masongsong, National Electrification Administration (NEA) administrator, said.

In a video message released on June 30, Masongsong urged all the ECs, including those in the region, to be more aggressive and assertive in looking for windows to harness their power, like leading a power summit among all stakeholders in their respective franchise areas and come up with strategic initiatives on how to reinvigorate businesses that suffered a slump during the lockdown.

There are five ECs in the region, namely Kalinga Apayao Electric Cooperative (KAELCO), Ifugao Electric Cooperative (IFELCO), Mountain Province Electric Cooperative (MOPRECO), Abra Electric Cooperative (ABRECO) and Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO).

Masongsong said the ECs can spearhead the power summit in every province that could lead to the formulation of business portfolios with ensured power supply to attract investors.

The anchor is "good electricity service," he said. "This can be achieved in terms of a steady supply of power, addressing unplanned power outages and restoring power with dispatch," he added.

Masongsong took note of the blended learning approach the Department of Education has approved for this school year which is set to open by August. "The ECs must fast track the installation of their fiber optic lines to be able to go for internet service and respond to the need for digital transformation," he said.

The NEA, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Phil. Rural Electric Cooperatives Assn. (PHILRECA) have earlier forged an agreement for the use of the fiber optic of the ECs to provide free internet services to public institutions.

But for residential and commercial customers, Masongsong urged the ECs to explore the possibility of engaging joint ventures or build operate and transfer (BOTs) pacts with private investors.

These contracts will ensure providing internet services especially that the work from home arrangement will now be a regular feature for private and public enterprises, he said.

"Expect a surge in the demand among residential and business establishment in the coming months," Masongsong said, adding that the 30 percent reduction of demand for power among businesses during the lockdown will eventually pick up under the new normal.

The continuing drive towards sitio energization must not of course be compromised, Masongsong said.

For 2020, the ECs and NEA were supposed to energize 841 sitios but only 457 sitios are in progress due to the pandemic. He said that around 187 sitios could not be energized this year because of the lockdown that derailed the procurement through bidding of the materials needed to energize them.

The NEA though has already greenlighted the ECs to conduct their procurement process through virtual modes in a bid to hasten the completion of pending electrification projects.

The NEA will always be there to address the concerns of the ECs, Masongsong said.