10 power projects vie for DOE accreditation

By Lenie Lectura – February 20, 2018
from Business Mirror

TEN power projects, including the multibillion peso Visayas-Mindanao Interconnection Project (VMIP), are vying to be declared by the energy department as “Project of National Significance” under Executive Order (EO) 30.

EO 30 states that concerned government agencies shall act upon applications for permits involving Energy Projects of National Significance (EPNS) not exceeding a 30-day period. If no decision is made within the specified processing timeframe, the application is deemed approved by the concerned agency.

This effectively reduced the time to process the permits needed for power projects to take off.

“There are 10 applications,” Undersecretary Jesus Cristino Posadas of the Department of Energy (DOE) said.

“We also received an application for the VMIP,” he added, but declined to identify the other projects. “These 10 must comply with the necessary requirements.”

Posadas said some of the projects involve renewable energy.

In order for an energy project to be considered among the EPNS, power-generation and -transmission projects must have a capital investment of at least P3.5 billion, significant contribution to the country’s economic development, significant consequential economic impact, significant potential contribution to the country’s balance of payments, significant impact on the environment, complex technical processes and engineering designs and significant infrastructure requirements.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said there is one power project that is close to being declared as EPNS.

“There is already a company. I just want to make sure nothing can be said against this,” Cusi said. “I think it’s a geothermal project. It is still under thorough evaluation, including the background.”

He added the geothermal project, with a capacity of more than 100 megawatts, is “in the north.”

Cusi explained the geothermal project is a clean source of energy that could qualify as baseload plant, running on 24/7 basis.

“We also want [a] clean source. We want one that will qualify as baseload,” Cusi said. “It qualifies to all those requirements, not just value of the investment.”

The VMIP, meanwhile, involves the interconnection of the Visayas and Mindanao via Cebu and Zamboanga. The converter stations in the Visayas and Mindanao will be in Sibonga, Cebu, and Aurora, Zamboanga del Sur, respectively. The project is estimated to be completed in 46 months with an estimated cost of P52 billion.

The Visayas-Mindanao interconnection project is in support of the government’s vision to interconnect the major grids into a single national grid, which is expected to help improve the overall power-supply security in the country as sharing of reserves will already become possible. The project also aims to reinforce the operation of the electricity market by maximizing the use of available energy resources and additional generation capacities in the Visayas and Mindanao, which include the renewable-energy resources.

Signed by President Duterte in June last year, EO 30 also creates the Energy Investment Coordinating Council—led by the DOE, which will spearhead and coordinate national government efforts to harmonize, integrate and streamline regulatory processes, requirements and forms relevant to the development of energy investments in the country.

Other members of the council include representatives from various national government agencies and relevant energy institutions (e.g., the departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Finance, Justice and Transportation, National Electrification Administration, National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, National Power Corp., National Transmission Corp., Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and other relevant government agencies).

“It is the policy of the State to ensure a continuous, adequate and economic supply of energy. Hence, an efficient and effective administrative process for energy projects of national significance should be developed in order to avoid unnecessary delays in the implementation of the Philippine Energy Plan,” the EO said.

Within the DOE, permits for all energy projects are processed within 25 days. Securing a permit from the DOE, however, is only 10 percent of the entire permitting process.

According to Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian, also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, it takes 1,340 days to secure a permit, 359 signatures needed for the permits to be signed and involves 74 different agencies, including the DOE.