By Myrna M. Velasco
Electric cooperatives (ECs) in the Bicol region and many parts of Visayas are still reeling hard from the plague of two typhoons last month, with the total cost on damage of their facilities reaching as much as ₱1.491 billion.
The National Electrification Administration (NEA) disclosed that the bulk of the amount at ₱911.668 million had been incurred from typhoon Tisoy’s fury; while ₱579.464 million was brought on by typhoon Ursula’s affliction.
Gauging from that scale of cost damage, even the ₱750-million emergency fund intended for electric cooperatives in times of calamities would not be enough to cover that. And unfortunately so, that fund is not also available at this time.
While the ECs are still pondering on how they can recoup such cost on their assets, the government electrification agency further divulged that around 25,300 households “are still struggling with prolonged outages.”
NEA qualified though that the unrestored power services in the typhoon-hit areas had already been down significantly, with it noting that the ECs are now “about to complete all post-typhoon power restoration activities.”
Via the agency’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Department (DRRMD), NEA has been monitoring progress on bringing back electricity services in the calamity-stricken areas as well as the magnitude of devastation on the facilities of power utilities.
As noted by NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong, “the restoration is actually faster given the extent of damage from the recent typhoons, the limited resources available both for materials and manpower, and the challenges in the restoration such as terrain and distance.”
The government-run electrification agency further reported that in the areas walloped by typhoon Ursula toward the Christmas holidays, Iloilo Electric Cooperative Inc. III in particular has already reached 97.97 percent on reconnecting back the electricity service of its customers – and that translates to around 90,008 households enjoying their power service again.
With that, the agency emphasized that only 1,869 residential subscribers have yet to regain their power service.
At Aklan Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AKELCO), the electricity services already brought back were already at a high of 99.60 percent or 146,039 households as of January 21. “Some 591 households are still waiting to have their power restored,” NEA emphasized.
Moreover, in the case of the Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ORMECO), the electricity service restoration is still considerably fledgling at 80-percent; and so far, the reconnection to households now hovers at 62,774 or 79 percent of the target. NEA said about 16,674 residential end-users remain “in the dark” despite the weeks that already passed.
For the ECs that had been afflicted by typhoon Tisoy, NEA indicated that “only four non-profit power distribution utilities have ongoing restoration activities,” primarily those of the Albay Electric Cooperative, Inc., Northern Samar Electric Cooperative, Inc., Sorsogon I Electric Cooperative, Inc.; and Ticao Island Electric Cooperative Inc.
The government agency highlighted though that the restoration levels on these specified ECs are already quite high; with Albay reaching 98.28 percent; Ticao Island at 97.14 percent; Northern Samar at 99.79 percent; and Sorsogon at 97.06 percent.