DOE wants to take role on ECC issuance of energy projects

By Myrna M. Velasco – February 16, 2017, 10:01 PM

from Manila Bulletin

To prevent delay in projects, the Department of Energy (DOE) is intending to take on the role of issuing environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for such facility developments and set it as a key provision in an Executive Order (EO) declaring energy projects of national significance.

The department is similarly targeting collaboration with 22 various government agencies to harmonize provisions of the proposed EO.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi told the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) that the energy projects that shall be qualified under that category would be those having significant contribution to the country’s economic growth and social development, infrastructure development, of capital investment scale; and with impact to balance of payment and the environment.

While the original target on the EO issuance should have been yesterday, the energy chief noted that they are eyeing approval and issuance of the EO by President Rodrigo Duterte within the year. The proposed EO was already lodged with the Office of the Executive Secretary.

“As soon as we get the EO, that will expedite things because we are looking at requirements 2019 and beyond, we’re doing that parallel to Ambisyon 2040,” or the platform of economic expansion agenda of the Duterte administration.

Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said the major collaborations shall be with key agencies such as with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP); and the local government units.

For the other agencies, he noted that harmonization of policies shall be done depending on the technology deployment of projects – for instance, land issues with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for some facility developments, among others.

The energy officials said they will also reinstate provision of the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law on shielding infrastructure projects from temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Courts.

Industry players in various segments of the energy sector have long been lobbying for the issuance of an EO or passage of a law that shall make project approvals and permitting systems efficient and time-saving.

The EO, as they wished, may also address the conflicting policies that various government agencies often enforced on the approval of projects.

A parallel legislation is also being pushed by Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian on such policy of streamlining project approvals.