The National Electrification Administration (NEA) has vowed to assist electric cooperatives in North Cotabato and Davao del Sur to fully recover from a series of strong earthquakes that jolted several areas in Mindanao last month. 

NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong on Tuesday met with officials of the Cotabato Electric Cooperative, Inc. (COTELCO) and Davao del Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc. (DASURECO), whose coverage areas were hit hardest by the October tremors. 

COTELCO General Manager Godofredo Homez briefed the NEA chief on the extent of the damage caused by the calamity to their power distribution facilities and its impact to their operations.

“We have a lot of challenges. That is what we’re dealing with in this calamity. How can we help the people recover?”

Homez said they moved quickly to restore power, installed street lights and charging stations to all evacuation centers, distributed solar panels, and secured areas that were damaged by the quakes, particularly villages in Makilala. 

The general manager reported there are at least seven barangays under the COTELCO franchise that remain unenergized as these areas have been declared “no-build zones,” which means construction of structures is no longer safe.

Homez also said the demand for electricity dropped by 30 percent as the series of earthquakes displaced thousands of their consumers who were forced to seek temporary shelter in evacuation centers. Some big industries are yet to resume normal operations as well.

“We hope by December we will be able to recover all of those things,” Homez said, adding that damage to the COTELCO distribution facilities was pegged at around P1 million. 

COTELCO is servicing Kidapawan City and 11 municipalities in North Cotabato namely Antipas, Arakan, Banisilan, Carmen, Kabacan, Magpet, Makilala, Matalam, Mlang, President Roxas, and Tulunan, where the epicenter of the tremors were located. 

Homez said the One EC Network Foundation has also been extending assistance to the power cooperative. The foundation provided them power generator sets, tarpaulins and flash lights that were distributed to the quake-hit residents. 

These donations were made possible in coordination with the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AMRECO), the EC party-list representatives, and the local government units. 

Masongsong, for his part, underscored that cooperation and collaboration are vital in times of disasters. He said electric cooperatives should look at “these realities” to be able to come up with a strategic plan of action on how to properly respond to such events. 

“We have a lot of challenges. That is what we’re dealing with in this calamity. How can we help the people recover? How can we recover the 30 percent drop in the demand (for electricity)?” Masongsong said.

He said the agency is waiting for funds to be released by the Department of Energy (DOE), so they can allocate an amount to cover the cost for house wiring materials that will benefit calamity-stricken consumers. 

“Electric cooperatives should look at these realities to be able to come up with a strategic plan of action.”

From COTELCO, the NEA administrator proceeded to DASURECO to receive updates as well on its ongoing rehabilitation efforts and the current state of its distribution facilities in the aftermath of the powerful quakes.

DASURECO Officer-in-Charge/General Manager Ferdinand Canastra said the calamity likewise caused the kilowatt-hour demand within their franchise area to drop by 30 to 35 percent. 

Canastra said their 5 MVA substation located at Poblacion, Malalag in Davao del Sur suffered damage. He said they detected an oil spill at the substation, which has the potential to cause an explosion. 

In response, the DASURECO chief said they have already passed a resolution to install a 20 MVA mobile substation that will provide temporary power supply to areas served by the Malalag substation.

The coop, with the support of the One EC Network Foundation and AMRECO, also conducted relief operations for their quake-stricken consumers. So far, they were able to distribute generator sets, flashlights, tarpaulins, as well as food packs and water to 3,192 households. 

NEA officials and employees through the same foundation also provided assistance in the form of cash donations worth P80,000 for the benefit of the quake victims. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *