An opposition lawmaker on Monday warned that Executive Order 156 mandating the Department of Energy (DOE) to identify unviable, unserved, underserved and poorly served areas within the franchise areas of distribution utilities may be used to take over electric cooperatives.
“This may be a guise to take over electric cooperatives like what the administration tried to do with (an electric cooperative) in Baguio,” House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Isagani Zarate said.
“EO 156 may seem innocuous and even supposedly beneficial to far flung areas still in need of electricity but it may be just be a disguised scheme to take over and then sell to private power players the electric cooperatives especially with the devastation caused by Typhoon Odette,” said Zarate, the nominee of the party-list group Bayan Muna.
Under EO 156, the DOE must order all distribution utilities to submit a Comprehensive Electrification Master Plan for the total electrification of their respective franchise areas.
Meanwhile, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) shall “promulgate rules in computing rates that allow full cost recovery for the facilities built by microgrids, [distributed energy resources], and other alternative electric service providers.”
The ERC is also responsible for the imposition of fines and penalties against non-compliant distribution utilities and the recommendation of the revocation of franchises.
The National Electrification Administration, on the other hand, must “coordinate with the DOE and extend the necessary assistance to enhance distribution development.”
Funds for the implementation of the executive order will be sourced from the budgets of the concerned agencies.
“As it is, the timing of EO 156 is also quite suspect considering that the elections are fast approaching and a change in the management of electric coops may affect the delivery of electricity during elections especially if they are controlled by Malacanang allies and appointees,” Zarate added.