39 communities in SouthCot to get electricity in 2013

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 December) — Thirty-nine more communities in South Cotabato province will be energized by next year under the national government’s continuing rural electrification program.

South Cotabato Second District Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Friday the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has approved the release of a P38.67 million grant to fund the planned expansion to more communities in the province of the government’s Sitio Electrification Program (SEP).

She said such grant is part of the initial P40 million allocated by the national government for SEP’s implementation in the province in 2013.

Fuentes said the initiative will mainly cover non-energized portions of various barangays in Koronadal City and in the municipalities of Tampakan, Tantangan, Banga, Sto. Nino, Lake Sebu, T’boli, Surallah and Norala.

“These are sitios, puroks and other extension areas that were not yet reached by the power distribution lines,” she said.

The official said the projects will be implemented through power distribution utility South Cotabato I Electric Cooperative.

The national government earlier tapped local electric cooperatives as the main implementers of SEP, with the Department of Energy and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) as supervising agencies.

NEA had earmarked some P6.27 billion for the implementation of SEP this year, with P3.70 billion coming from its 2012 budget and P2.57 billion from the national government.

Fuentes said the electrification projects will benefit around 10 to 40 households in each of the 39 target communities.

She said most of these households were not covered by the previous electrification programs due to the lack of power distribution facilities in the area.

“Some of the target areas have existing solar power system and we will just upgrade and connect them to the main power grid,” she said.

Aside from the identified 39 project areas, Fuentes said they are presently validating 17 more communities as expansion beneficiaries of the SEP.

She said the funding for the additional beneficiaries will be drawn from the P100 million grant offered earlier by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad for the province’s electrification program.

Fuentes said such grant, which will be sourced from the national government’s savings for this year, may be raised later on to P200 million, depending on the area’s needs. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)