DENR shortens duration of ECC approvals for power projects

By Myrna M. Velasco – September 3, 2017, 10:01 PM

from Manila Bulletin

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in collaboration with the Department of Energy (DoE), will simplify and shorten the duration of approval processes for the environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) of power projects.

In the modified rules anchored on Executive Order (EO) No. 30, according to DOE Assistant Secretary Gerardo D. Erguiza Jr., an ECC for a power project shall already be for the signing of the DENR Secretary on the 27th day of the application process.

The publication process, which conventionally had been set for 15 days, shall also be shortened to just three days.

“They (DENR) already have a draft and they are coordinating with us. So their draft rules will still be for review of the DOE,” he said.

Previously, it could take several months or years for power projects to be granted with ECCs, a critical step because it conveys acceptability of the project, primarily by its host community.

The other key provisions of the draft ECC approval rules would be the mandated rejection or discarding of project applications on the 15th day – so processes on other pending approvals could move ahead.

Processing of papers, Erguiza said, shall also be done every two to three days so delays could be prevented and to keep pace with the timelines set under President Duterte’s EO on energy projects of national significance.

Section 8 of the EO prescribes that DENR will separately adjust its own guidelines on ECC approvals of power projects, and submit its crafted rules to Malacanang for President Duterte’s approval.

The EO streamlines overall project permitting and approval process for the energy sector, primarily for ventures with capital spend of R3.5 billion and the others that would eventually be classified as energy projects of national significance.

The policy was formally issued June 28 this year and was rendered effective August 4 with the required publication leeway – and that was also the timeframe on the formation of the prescribed Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EICC) headed by Energy Senior Undersecretary Jesus Cristino P. Posadas.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said the relevant agencies covered by the EO are still at the process of drafting the edict’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR), hence, he is appealing to all stakeholders “to wait for the final set of rules they will be coming up with.”

So far, he noted there are no projects that are pending or that had been lodged post the issuance of the new Presidential Order on energy projects.

“The ones we are clearing up and addressing have been the pending projects in the past… there’s no project application yet under EO 30,” Cusi stressed.