Supporting Grid Resilience and Efficiency in Rural Philippines

NRECA International – an affiliate of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association –helped establish a small electrification program in the Philippines 50 years ago. Today, 121 electric cooperatives provide electricity service to more than 56 million Filipinos in 36,000 rural communities. This delivery model is based on the success of the electric cooperative movement that provided electricity to rural America more than 80 years ago. For almost 20 years, USTDA has supported NRECA International’s efforts to strengthen the financial health of electric cooperatives in the Philippines and improve grid reliability and resilience using American solutions.

Recognizing that the electric cooperatives needed help to improve their performance and service to their members, in 2004, NRECA International helped establish the Rural Electrification Corporation (REFC) to provide a private, cooperative-owned financing mechanism to introduce improved technology and finance key investments.

USTDA and NRECA International also jointly funded a technical assistance project that prepared detailed investment needs assessments, financial plans and loan documentation for 30 electric cooperatives. These efforts established REFC’s credibility with sources of debt financing, paving the way to present-day results that include $15 million in capital, a loan portfolio of almost $10 million and total lending of more than $32 million to electric cooperatives.

A second USTDA-NRECA-REFC collaboration in the Philippines focused on electrification system pilot projects that led to the adoption of best practices by cooperatives across the country. Since the completion of the projects in 2013, average system losses dropped from more than 15 percent to single digits in all 21 REFC member districts. These infrastructure improvements also increased access to electricity and improved power delivery and continuity of service for rural communities across the Philippines, using U.S. power distribution components and services sourced from 12 U.S. companies across 10 states.

Today, NRECA International’s long-term partnership with the electric cooperatives in the Philippines includes a wide network of American electric cooperatives that are helping to deliver governance training, best practice sharing for management and distribution system operations, safety training, and natural disaster recovery and resiliency.

“In 2019, leaders from the American electric cooperatives joined their counterparts in the Philippines to celebrate 50 years of rural electrification in that country,” said Dan Waddle, Senior Vice President for NRECA International. “We continue to find ways to help each other through collaboration with long-term partners such as USTDA.”

USTDA’s Acting Director Enoh T. Ebong sums up the success story this way: “USTDA’s longstanding partnership with NRECA and RFEC strengthened rural electric cooperatives across the Philippines, provided millions with more dependable and efficient electricity, and generated key technology exports by U.S. firms. This is a testament to the effectiveness of USTDA’s model and the historically strong relationship between the United States and the Philippines.