DOE re-aligns EO 30 for power investments in medium-term

By Myrna M. Velasco – January 23, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

The enforcement of Executive Order (EO) No. 30 in streamlining power project approvals is not seen to be “too immediate” by the Department of Energy, as it noted that this is a policy aligned to aid next batch of power investments taking off from blueprints around 2020-2021 period.

“It is a policy instrument that we are using to make sure that there are no project delays… we are looking at power projects in the next investment cycle, which is year 2020-2021,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi.

The only immediate project being contemplated to be placed within the ambit of EO 30 is the proposed rehabilitation of the Agus-Pulangui hydropower complexes in Mindanao.

State-run National Power Corporation (NPC) already crunched numbers that the required investment for the hydropower complex’s rehabilitation would be R54 billion.

Both the Departments of Energy and Finance had been on agreement that it would be a better option to rehabilitate the hydropower complex prior to its planned privatization so the government could fetch optimized proceeds from it.

Cusi, nevertheless, admitted that there are limitations to what the department can enforce under EO 30 – such as project concerns on some facets of community approvals, chiefly the issues under the tutelage of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples.

Additionally, the tricky sphere of approvals of power supply agreements (PSAs) on the sale of generated capacity of power plants is also beyond DOE’s control – as that is a mandate vested by law to the Energy Regulatory Commission.

Cusi cites the ‘oversupply’ situation in the country’s power industry today, but to his assessment, it will not take long before supply-demand axis will intersect again.

When that happens, he noted that such shall be taken as a signal for the entry of next wave of investments in the power sector – and the department anticipates that timeframe to be between years 2020 to 2021.

The EO, he said, is a preparatory policy to that phase. Hence, at this juncture, the energy chief noted that they are taking their “sweet time” into the crafting of the Palace directive’s implementing rules and regulations.

The department already had its consultations and collaboration initiatives with other relevant agencies involved in power project approvals, but Cusi emphasized “it is taking time for the IRR to be completed because we also want to make that the policy is not going to be abused by any player in the industry.”