(PNA photo by Joey O. Razon) 

MANILA – The country must have a unified program to expedite the electrification of all households, particularly those in rural communities, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said.

Currently, the electrification of households is undertaken by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) through its Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) and the Department of Energy (DOE) through its Total Electrification Project (TEP).

However, the DOE still downloads the money to NEA and to the National Power Corporation (NPC).

Despite various electrification programs undertaken over the past decades, Gatchalian noted that total electrification of all households in the country continues to be unfulfilled.

Based on DOE data as of March, the household electrification level stands at 95.56 percent.

The electrification rate in Luzon stands at 98.71 percent and 96.97 percent in the Visayas.

Mindanao only has an 86.39-percent rate due to the low electrification level of cooperatives.

Most households without electricity are located in Basilan, Lanao del Sur and in Sulu.

Napakababa ng utilization ng DOE sa pondo nito para sa (The DOE has a very low utilization of its funds for) electrification,” Gatchalian said in a news release on Sunday.

From the disbursement rate of 0.62 percent in 2021 to 96.62 percent as of August 2022, Gatchalian said the obligation rate of the electrification budget went down from last year’s 83.56 percent to 0.33 percent as of August, citing DOE data on the TEP fund utilization rate.

“It’s deplorable that in this time and age, over one million rural households in the country are not able to reap the many benefits of electrification,” Gatchalian said. “There has to be a clear policy on which agency is responsible for pursuing rural electrification and that is why we need to harmonize all existing programs for electrification.”

The lawmaker said these are the reasons whey he pushed for the passage of Republic Act 11646, or the Microgrid Systems Act, signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte in January.

The law aims to accelerate total electrification and ensure the provision of quality, reliable, and secure electricity service at reasonable rates in unserved and underserved areas through the installation of microgrid systems by accredited Microgrid Service Providers (MGSPs).

The MGSPs will be allowed to operate in any area where there is no electricity access or where the power connection does not provide 24/7 electricity supply.

The DOE will declare unserved and underserved areas for electrification and service by prospective MGSPs. (PNA)