NEA forms team vs power shortage in Abra
Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — State-run National Electrification Administration (NEA) has created another task force to avert power outage and improve the electricity service reliability to consumers by rehabilitating the power distribution system of Abra province.

NEA administrator Edgardo Masongsong mobilized Task Force Kapatiran, specifically mandated with the rehabilitation of the dilapidated power distribution system of the Abra Electric Cooperative (ABRECO) to help avert outages.

The creation of the task force is part of the state-run agency’s efforts to address the challenges and issues besetting the beleaguered ABRECO, which is currently under the management of the Task Force Duterte Abra Power (TFD-AP) and the NEA.

Task Force Kapatiran ABRECO will prioritize the rehabilitation of power distribution facilities in Bangued, the capital of Abra, as it accounts for 70 percent of the power coop’s total demand.

The task force consists of Ilocos Sur Electric Cooperative Inc. (ISECO), Benguet Electric Cooperative Inc. (BENECO), La Union Electric Cooperative Inc. (LUELCO), Pangasinan I Electric Cooperative (PANELCO I), Pangasinan III Electric Cooperative (PANELCO III)and Central Pangasinan Electric Cooperative Inc.  (CENPELCO).

Meanwhile, ABRECO is also moving forward with its plan to apply for debt restructuring agreements with the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM), and Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) / Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP).

As of end-June, ABRECO’s outstanding obligations to PSALM and PEMC/IEMOP are P579.86 million and P238.52 million, respectively.

To improve its electricity service to the province, ABRECO has included in its rehabilitation plan and capital expenditure plan (Capex) the uprating of its existing 5MVA Substation in Calaba, Bangued to 15MVA; relocation of its 5MVA Substation from Calaba, Bangued to Pidigan; and conversion of Bangued backbone line to double circuit.

The electric cooperative also plans to avail of commodity loan with the Rural Electrification Financing Corp. (REFC) for the purchase of line materials, tools and equipment.

Even before Task Force Kapatiran ABRECO was formed, the NEA Management team and Task Force Duterte Abra Power have implemented several reforms on the financial, institutional and technical aspects of EC operations since the takeover in 2018 due to long-standing mismanagement issues.

Among the reforms instituted include full payment of its outstanding debts to Aboitiz Power Renewables Inc. amounting to P6,899,792; payment of quarterly amortizations to the NEA amounting to P1.3 million; updated payment of employees’ premiums/loans and withholding taxes to government agencies and the setting up of employees retirement fund.

Other initiatives undertaken were the conduct of comprehensive operations audit and special cash audit, inspection and correction of big load consumer metering facilities, capacitating of EC meter readers, organization of the Multi-Sectoral Electrification Advisory Council (MSEAC), and submission of a proposed EC organizational structure.

NEA also released P18.46 million as working capital loan on Feb. 27, 2018 for the payment of ABRECO’s power accounts with PEMC and National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), and another P10 million on April 1 as calamity loan due to Typhoon Ompong.

Through the upgrading of its billing system under the TFD-AP initiative, ABRECO was able to correct erroneous billing data which paved the way for the improvement of collection efficiency of 89 percent and reduction of system loss from 14.95 percent to 13.87 percent. Other accomplishments include acquisition of service vehicles, tools, equipment and other electrical materials.

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