By Myrna M. Velasco – April 6, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin
At least 34 multi-billion dollars worth of energy projects are now lodged with the Department of Energy (DOE), all seeking fast-track approvals within the ambit of Executive Order No. 30, a policy streamlining approvals and permitting processes on the so-called energy projects of national significance (EPNS) being headlined by the Duterte administration.
According to energy officials, these are array of projects – ranging from hydro to geothermal and other renewable energy projects; various power plant ventures and the proposed P52 billion Visayas-Mindanao grid interconnection project.
The number of EO 30-applicants had already grown tremendously from the initial 10 projects first hinted to the media by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi in February.
Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said all applications are “still under evaluation,” with validation and assessments focused on the proposed projects’ alignments with the Philippine Energy Plan.
He explained it is deemed ‘contentious’ if the project is still under ‘indicative phase’, “because the developers or the project sponsors may still have that tendency to flip the venture eventually.”
Fuentebella noted they are taking “a very cautious stance on the project flippers…but if there would be flippers, we have to cancel the approval, so that shall be ‘of no value’ to the prospective taker.”
For projects in the sector to be qualified as “EPNS”, the minimum capitalization must at least be R3.5 billion; and must have “significant contribution to the country’s economic development.”
In an advisory sent out by the energy department to project applicants, it was prescribed that “for project proponents with existing service contracts (SC) and certificate of endorsements (COE), a project revalidation shall be conducted to ensure that they comply with the EPNS requirements.”
And for new projects being applied under EO 30, “the validation/evaluation for EPNS qualification shall be determined in parallel with the processing of appropriate SCs and COEs.”
Following such process, the energy department indicated that “the certificate of EPNS shall be issued simultaneously with the SCs or COEs.”
The DOE has institutionalized the Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EICC) as the central body that shall be evaluating, processing and to eventually recommend the EO 30-underpinned projects for the Secretary’s approval.
Fundamentally, that Palace-issued Executive Order is the Duterte administration’s strategic response to investors’ long-term headache of dragged out and red tape-slammed project approvals and permitting.