Posted on August 03, 2017
THE GOVERNMENT is looking to tap the revenue from the offshore Malampaya natural gas project to fund a program that will provide electricity access to far-flung areas.
Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian, chairman of the Joint Congressional Power Commission and the Senate Committee on Energy, said on Wednesday he plans to work with the Energy department for the allocation of a lump sum of P25 billion sourced from the energy resource development fund, commonly known as the Malampaya fund, to complete the National Electrification Administration’s (NEA) Sitio Electrification Program (SEP).
“One of our plans is to take P25 billion from the Malampaya fund in one blow to fund rural electrification,” Mr. Gatchalian told the participants of the 48th founding anniversary of the NEA in Quezon City.
As of 2016, the DoE estimated the Malampaya fund to be worth P235.662 billion. It is authorized for use in energy resource development. The offshore gas-to-power project west of Palawan was launched in 2001.
NEA Administrator Edgardo R. Masongsong reiterated during the ceremony that the agency will need between P23.68 billion and P25 billion to electrify the remaining 23,681 sitios under the SEP. A single SEP project costs at least P1 million.
However, the 2017 General Appropriations Act allows the NEA to energize only 2,410 sitios this year and another 1,800 sitios in 2018 with an allocation of P1.8 billion, Mr. Masongsong said.
Sought for comment on the sidelines of the event, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said: “The Malampaya fund is there for electrification and energy projects. We have been asking for that.”
“Even the universal change and the subsidies in the (small power utilities group) area, instead of people paying for those subsidies, we can involve the Malampaya fund,” Mr. Cusi said.
Since 1969, NEA and the electric cooperatives have electrified 78 provinces, 90 cities, 1,385 municipalities, 36,051 barangays and 118,632 sitios as of May 31. This represents 83% of the sitios within the NEA and areas covered by electric cooperatives.
“Our target is to reach 100% (rural electrification) but at the rate we are going, it will be difficult,” Mr. Cusi said. -- Krista Angela M. Montealegre