Socoteco cited for rural electrification program

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/22 May) – President Benigno Simeon S. Aquino III commended power distribution utility South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) for completing the energization of all 204 barangays within its service area.

Engr. Rodolfo Ocat, Socoteco II general manager, said in a statement the President specifically lauded the electric cooperative’s contribution to the national government’s ongoing countryside
energization initiatives through the flagship Sitio Electrification and Barangay Line Enhancement Program.

In a message sent to the electric cooperative for its recent 31st annual general assembly, Ocat said the President cited the cooperative “for helping illuminate our straight and righteous path towards a brighter tomorrow.”

Socoteco II recently energized 15 communities here and in nearby Polomolok and Tupi towns in South Cotabato as part of the program’s implementation.

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) earlier earmarked P6.27 billion for the implementation this year of the Sitio Electrification and Barangay Line Enhancement Program, which had been endorsed by the President as a priority initiative.

The agency said it will use P3.70 billion of its 2012 budget while the national government signified to provide an augmentation of P2.57 billion for the rural electrification program.

The national government had tapped local electric cooperatives as the main implementers of the program, with the Department of Energy and NEA as the supervising agencies.

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said Socoteco II is now among the electric cooperatives in the country that have completely energized their service areas.

Socoteco II, which is considered as the largest electric cooperative in Mindanao and the second largest in the country, serves this city, the entire Sarangani Province and Tupi and Polomolok.

“We especially laud Socoteco II for energizing 100 percent of the nine towns, one city, and 204 barangays in its area… while keeping system losses at an average of only 10.99 percent,” he noted.

Socoteco II was among the power utilities in Mindanao that were recently hit by long rotating brownouts due to a power shortage in the island.

But Ocat said they have kept power outages in area at a minimal level compared to other localities due to its linkup with independent power producers serving the island.

In anticipation of the current energy shortage in Mindanao, he explained that the electric cooperative started looking for new sources of electricity as early as 2010 when it suffered daily outages lasting about nine hours as a result of the drought-triggered depletion of power supplies produced by the National Power Corporation’s hydroelectric plants.

In October last year, Socoteco II forged a power supply agreement with the Aboitiz-controlled Therma Marine, Inc. for a standby augmentation supply of 18-megawatts (MW) in case the foreseen power shortage worsens.

To ensure adequate power supply in the area, the cooperative also signed a power sales agreement with the Alcantara Group’s Sarangani Energy Corporation (SEC) for the provision of 70 MW of power starting 2015.

SEC, which is joint venture between the Alcantara’s Conal Holdings Corporation and Thailand’s Electricity Generating Public Company, is currently building a 200-MW coal-fired power plant in Maasim town in Sarangani.

The US$450-million power plant is expected to be operational before the end of 2015. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)

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