The House of Representatives unanimously approved on third and final reading this week a bill seeking to ensure the continuous and uninterrupted transmission and distribution of electricity by keeping the right-of-way of power lines free and clear of any tall trees and other hazardous or dangerous obstruction.
The approved House Bill 6276 also aims to promote public safety and protect the integrity and reliability of transmission and distribution facilities throughout the country.
Rep. Carlos Roman Uybarreta (Party-list, 1-CARE), principal author of the bill, said steps should be taken in order to have a sufficient and reliable access to electricity.
“Insufficient, unreliable or costly access to power is a binding constraint to economic growth,”
“It is common knowledge that energy use and economic growth go hand in hand. Increased energy supply leads to economic growth while economic growth leads to greater energy demand,”
-Rep. Carlos Roman Uybaretta
Rep. Reynaldo Umali (2nd District, Oriental Mindoro), another author of the house bill, said the incidents of power outages are mostly due to obstructions of power lines consisting of high growing trees and other hazardous structures or improvements constructed below or near the power transmission lines.
“Frequent power interruptions caused by obstructions on power lines may trigger a cascading effect of outages on the whole power system ,resulting in wide-scale power interruptions bringing negative impact on the nation’s economy and the loss of millions of revenue,”
-Rep. Reynaldo Umali
As defined under the house bill, “right-of-way” refers to the easement on lands and air spaces traversed by electric power lines with a width and line clearance requirements dependent on the voltage of the electric power lines as prescribed by the Philippine Electrical Code and/or International Standards. For this purpose, right-of-way corridor shall be classified as “danger Area” within the contemplation of Republic Act No. 7279, as amended, otherwise known as the “Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992”.
The term “tall growing plants” refer to plants, vine and other plant species, which grow or have a potential to grow more than three meters in height from the ground.
The bill applies to all electric power lines and other related facilities for the conveyance of electricity through its distribution system.
The bill declares it unlawful for any person, natural or juridical, public or private, to plant or cause to be planted tall growing plants, including plants of whatever kind, variety, or height within the right-of-way corridor of electric power lines.
Likewise, the bill prohibits the construction of hazardous improvements under or within the right-of-way corridor of electric power lines and to conduct hazardous activities under, within, or near the right-of-way corridor of electric power lines.
It is also unlawful to prevent or refuse to allow entry to the property for purposes of repair of electric power lines and/or restoration of power, or to conduct necessary clearing, cutting, trimming, and pruning of tall growing plants and removing, dismantling or demolishing of hazardous improvements.
Moreover, it is unlawful to perform other analogous acts or activities which will impair the transmission or distribution of electricity, disrupt the operations of the grid, sub-transmission assets, or distribution systems, and cause damage to electric power lines.
Any person, both natural or juridical, found guilty of intentionally and deliberately planting tall growing plants or introducing hazardous improvements and conducting hazardous activities within the right-or-way corridor of power lines shall suffer the penalty of arresto menor (one to 30 days) or a fine of P20,000, or both, at the discretion of the court for the first offense.
For the second offense, the penalty of arresto mayor (one month and one day to six months) or a fine of P50,000, or both, at the discretion of the court shall be imposed on the offender.
For the third offense, the penalty of prision correcional (six months and one day to six years) or a fine ranging from P100,000, or both, at the discretion of the court shall be meted on the offender.
The foregoing penalties are without prejudice to civil damages, which may be recovered by the distribution utility or rightful owner or operator of electric power lines for the illegal acts committed in violation of the Act.
The bill grants the transmission company, distribution utility, or the rightful owner or operator of the electric power lines the authority to enter public or private proper after due notice and proper coordination with the owner, tiller, occupant or possessor of the land to, among other things: conduct routine inspection of electric power lines located within the property; conduct trimming, pruning, cutting, or clearing of tall growing plants within the right-of-way corridors of electric power lines; and remove, dismantle, or demolish hazardous improvements within the right-of-way corridors of electric power lines traversing the property.
Other authors of the bill are House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Reps. Rogelio Neil Pepito Roque, Deogracias Ramos, Jr., Gil Acosta, Wilter Palma, Jr., Lianda Bolilia, Aurora Cerilles, Napoleon Dy, Rodel Batocabe, Mark Aeron Sambar, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Rose Marie Arenas, Jose Tejada, Estrellita Suansing, Aniceto Bertiz III, Jericho Jonas Nograles, Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Tricia Velasco-Catera, Orestes Salon, Anna Maria Villaraza-Suarez, Danilo Suarez, Juan Pablo Bondoc, Amado Espino Jr., Victoria Isabel Noel, Eugene De Vera, Virgilio Lacson, Michael Romero, Marisol Panotes, Enrico Pineda, , Christopher Co, Alfredo Garbin Jr., and Ricardo Belmonte. (30) MVIP