Some 83 electric cooperatives have already announced a 30-day extension for electricity consumers to settle their power bills amid the ongoing public health crisis in the country, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) said.
This is based on the monitoring of the agency as of Wednesday (March 25), one week after the Department of Energy (DOE) called for “solidarity” by deferring payments of obligations and dues among all stakeholders in the power sector for the benefit of consumers.
Masongsong reiterated his directive to all ECs to ensure continuous electricity services to consumers
The NEA released an advisory on it to all 121 power co-ops last week, as the infectious coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is expected to take a serious financial toll on many Filipino families and industries nationwide.
NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong said implementing a 30-day payment extension to electricity consumers will help ease their financial burden, especially those impacted by the enhanced community quarantines due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While a significant number of electric cooperatives already complied with the directive—most are found in Luzon and Visayas—other power co-ops simply released public announcements on the waiver of surcharges for late payments and suspension of disconnection activities.
“My appeal to the electric cooperatives is to comply with the advisories of both the Department of Energy and the NEA since they also get reprieve from paying their obligations to their power suppliers,” Masongsong said.
The NEA, however, echoed the position adopted by most power co-ops that customers who prefer to settle their bills on time may still do so by paying through electronic means, if available, for the sake of social distancing and other precautionary measures that need to be observed.
Masongsong, meanwhile, also welcomed the steps already taken by the management of electric cooperatives to protect their employees, especially the line workers and other crews, who need to work on the field to ensure that power distribution services will not be disrupted.
These include the adoption of work-from-home arrangements, shortened work hours, or establishment of skeletal staff for people who work in the offices, as well as the production of improvised face masks, face shields and other personal protective equipment for those who work in the field.
Masongsong reiterated his directive to all ECs to ensure continuous electricity services to consumers in their respective franchise areas, particularly to critical loads such as hospitals and medical facilities, government offices, and other basic utility service providers.
These moves are in line with the declaration of a state of calamity by the national government throughout the country for a period of six months, and the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine over the entire island of Luzon due to COVID-19.