1,500 rural villages still won’t have electricity
About 1,500 rural villages across the country will still have no electricity next year after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reduced by P4 billion the funding for the government’s electrification program, the Department of Energy (DOE) said on Friday.
At the Senate budget deliberations, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla acknowledged that the budget constraints would adversely affect the DOE’s capability to bring power to all residential areas in the country as wanted by the President.
President Marcos had promised during his July 24 State of the Nation Address that the entire country would have electricity before his six-year term ends in 2028.
As of 2020, Lotilla said the government had been able to electrify 96 percent of houses nationwide, down from 98 percent five years earlier.
“This is because the number of households has been increasing. We cannot cope up with this given the present budgetary limitations,” Lotilla said.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who presided over the budget hearing, noted that a census conducted by the DOE showed that some 800,000 million Filipino households were still without electricity in 2015.
He said this figure hit 1.8 million households five years later, or an increase of more than 100 percent.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros urged the DOE, which was allotted with P2.6 billion for 2024, to pursue programs promoting the development of renewable energy sources and to bankroll projects that would connect more areas to the country’s main power grid.
At the same time, Hontiveros said the DOE must endeavor to bring down electricity cost in the country by scrutinizing the services and operations of those involved in energy generation and transmission, such as the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.
“The sad fact is, many Filipinos continue to be denied the basic service of access to electricity. Our power system is neither clean, secure, reliable nor affordable,” Hontiveros lamented.
“There are other critical items in our electricity payments, which we need to look into to achieve our aspirations for reasonable and affordable power rates in the country,” she said.