GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/31 Dec.) — An additional 190 remote communities in parts of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces were energized this year through the national government’s continuing rural electrification program.
Santiago Tudio, South Cotabato I Electric Cooperative (Socoteco I) general manager, said the electrification projects in the area were implemented by the cooperative in the last 12 months under the flagship Sitio Electrification Program (SEP).
He said the initiative covered previously non-energized communities in Koronadal City, eight municipalities in South Cotabato and Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat, which comprise Socoteco I’s franchise or service area.
“All these projects are already completed and turned over to the beneficiaries,” Tudio said in a radio interview.
In September, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) approved the release of P137 million for the electrification of 137 more sitios in South Cotabato area until yearend.
Tudio said the projects, which were among the 190 that were completed this year, had an allocation of P1 million each.
The funds were specifically set aside for the installation of additional distribution lines and related structures that will facilitate the connection of 137 sitios to the province’s main power grid, he said.
Most of the projects were implemented in the province’s upper valley area, specifically in the upland areas of T’boli and Lake Sebu towns.
Tudio said all 199 barangays in South Cotabato are now fully energized and they are only working on the connection of a number of sitios, especially those in the remote areas, to the power grid.
The national government had tapped local electric cooperatives as the main implementers of SEP, with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the NEA as supervising agencies.
The DOE and NEA initially targeted the electrification of 6,000 sitios this year but has increased it to 10,000 on instructions from President Benigno S. Aquino III.
The President earlier committed a total funding of P33 billion for the program, which will be implemented until 2015.
Meantime, Tudio said they are hoping to sustain next year the electric cooperative’s recent elevation to the “AAA” category by the NEA.
He said Socoteco I made the “AAA” category, which is the highest given by NEA to electric cooperatives, after reaching “A+” level in 2012.
The categorization of electric cooperatives depend on their annual performance rating based on the set of parameters developed by NEA that includes, among others, collection efficiency, system loss, and payment to power suppliers.
Socoteco I has around 92,000 consumers most of which are residential connections.
“This was due to our improved performance, especially on the financial and operations aspect,” Tudio added. (MindaNews)