KATIPUNAN, Zamboanga del Norte – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is calling for more efforts to electrify rural areas, noting that many households in different provinces around the country are still without electric power.

Administrator Edgardo Masongsong of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) must take a deep thought about his agency’s rural electrification efforts,  he said during a visit here Saturday.

He lamented that their target has not been achieved and 2.7 million households are still without electricity in spite of the billions of funds already poured into NEA.

Gatchalian noted that from 2016 until last year, the government has allocated PHP5.45 billion for "sitio" electrification, PHP3.93 billion for the supply of electricity in missionary areas, and PHP73 billion has been remitted from the universal charge for missionary electrification collection as of December 2017.

But despite all the efforts, Gatchalian, who heads the Senate Committee on Energy, said that about 16 percent of the total number of households in the country is still not energized, and majority of these are from Mindanao while Luzon and Visayas share the remaining number.

NEA’s strategy towards total electrification include “grid extension” by the electric cooperatives, which is being carried out by NEA; second is by missionary electrification in off grid places, which is being implemented by the National Power Corporation. Third is through qualified third parties, like local government units.

Meanwhile, Gatchalian assured Mindanaoans that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGCP) plan to link Mindanao grid to Visayas grid through submarine cable will not result in drastic increase in electricity rates in Mindanao, which has been enjoying lower electricity rates.

“The link just gives flexibility to the power supply in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao grids,” Gatchalian told the Philippine News Agency.

“Electricity rate has nothing to do with the proposed link. And it is important that we can easily transfer surplus electricity to where it is needed,” he said.

There is fear that three years from now, Visayas will suffer energy crisis, and NGCP is fast tracking the linking of Visayas and Mindanao grids to utilize Mindanao’s surplus electricity supply to Visayas. (PNA)