After getting microgrid franchise, Solar Para Sa Bayan prods others to apply for the same

By Lenie Lectura – August 5, 2019
from Business Mirror

SOLAR Para Sa Bayan Corp. (SPSB) is encouraging interested firms to also pursue their intention to apply for a solar microgrid franchise.

This, after President Duterte signed into law on July 31 Republic Act 11357 granting SPSB a franchise to operate microgrids in the remote and unviable, unserved or underserved areas in selected provinces of the Philippines.

Leandro Leviste, who owns SPSB, said the SPSB’s franchise would pave the way for others to secure the same.

“There are business groups that are planning to file their own franchises. Hopefully, this paves the way for more competitive power industry for everyone. In fact, there was already one. We hope this will be a new market that many will be able to participate in,” said Leviste.

He said many small and medium-sized solar companies were joining forces to apply for the same. Leviste said his group has been organizing several open forums to assist interested firms.

At the same time, he encouraged other power producers to work together toward achieving total electrification.

“We wish to extend an olive branch to those who once opposed this bill, for us to support the [Department of Energy’s] goal of achieving 100-percent electrification and ending energy poverty in the Philippines by 2022. It is time for us to join forces and work together for the common good,” he added.

Despite questions over its anti-competition features, the bill was endorsed by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Department of Energy (DOE), which have made achieving 100-percent electrification its top priority as around 12 million Filipinos still lack electricity.

In the past, a group of power suppliers accused SPSB of encroaching upon their service areas. SPSB once faced allegations that the franchise is bound to create a monopoly.

“It’s nonexclusive and, in fact, has a provision in the franchise that it is without prejudice to the rights of others who operate, even for those without a similar franchise,” Leviste explained.

He argued that “Filipinos are already deprived, and rather than create a monopoly, this firm breaks the existing monopoly in selected provinces with unserved and underserved areas.”

He added: “If encroaching means giving 24-hour electricity to people who never watch TV or turned on their electric fans then yes, we are every glad to encroach in their franchise areas, and do things that they have failed to do themselves.”

SPSB is currently providing solar service in Dingalan, Aurora; Calayan, Cagayan; Claveria, Masbate; Dumaran, Palawan; and Lubang, Occidental Mindoro.