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Microgrid firms, NEA in talks over off-grid power crisis


THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) said it is in talks with the Department of Energy (DoE) to allow microgrid operators to step in and help resolve the looming power shortage in off-grid areas caused by high diesel prices.

“A lot of private parties have approached the NEA office. We are in talks with the DoE for seamless coordination for QTP (qualified third party) microgrids,” Antonio Mariano C. Almeda, NEA administrator, said at a recent briefing.

The Microgrid Systems Act authorizes QTPs to accelerate the electrification of off-grid areas that are deemed underserved. Microgrids typically use a combination of renewable energy and batteries to power remote communities, reducing their reliance on diesel generators.

The arm of the National Power Corp. (Napocor) that serves off-grid areas, known as the Small Power Utilities Group, has warned of service reductions in remote communities reliant on generator power, following the depletion of the Napocor’s diesel budget because of higher-than-expected prices for the fuel.

Mr. Almeda added that other measures being considered are requesting the more financially capable power cooperatives to make advance fuel payments.

The DoE and Napocor have proposed raising the universal charge for missionary electrification (UCME) to sustain services in areas served by Napocor. The Energy Regulatory Commission said it is currently reviewing the application to raise UCME.

Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act authorizes a UCME charge to be collected from on-grid electricity end-users to fund Napocor’s electrification programs and projects, particularly in remote areas not connected to the grid. — Ashley Erika O. Jose

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