By Myrna M. Velasco – September 9, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin
Investors in the renewable energy (RE) sector have been prodding the Department of Energy (DOE) on a speedy process and approval of the 200 pending service contracts (SC) still awaiting its scrutiny and action.
Given the scale of un-acted RE service contract applications lounging at the DOE desks yet, the RE industry players also called on the government to shelve for now the ‘no contact policy’ being enforced by the DOE’s Centralized Review and Evaluation Committee (C-REC) upon investors in the sector.
“We believe that it shall be full contact because we’d like to know from DOE where they would likely want to have developments – if there are areas that they would want developed, we’d like to know those,” Alberto Dalusung III, who is representing the biomass alliance at the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) has noted. He stressed “if there are policy directions being pointed to, then we would like to be in sync with what government intends. And the way to do that is to have ‘full contact’ and to have transparency.”
Don Mario Y. Dia, president of the Confederation of Solar Developers of the Philippines, added “for us in the private sector, it puts a bad taste because it appears like there’s something being hidden in that kind of an arrangement.”
He contended “the private sector has been very open to discussing situations or processes, particular when you’re getting permits with the DOE – especially in a service contract where you are discussing technical, financial and legal aspects. We don’t want to get folders kept under the rug or referred to drawers so to speak, so a lot of these discussions need to be very open so there shall be an explanation why there is expediency necessary in these processes.”
DOE Undersecretary Jesus Cristino P. Posadas nevertheless defended that the department’s C-REC is enforcing the ‘no-contact policy’ so they can concentrate in reviewing first the earlier pending contracts and decide on these depending on the merits of each case or on the veracity and completeness of submitted documents.
The “no contact policy” entails that prospective investors could no longer make queries on their project proposals without going through the “ticketed system” of scheduling formal meetings with the DOE officials. In a resolution issued by the five-man C-REC body of the DOE chaired by Undersecretary Donato D. Marcos, it has been stipulated that “officials and employees of the department are prohibited from addressing and entertaining any communication, verbal or written, follow-up or query, from applicants/developers regarding pending applications and existing service contracts.”
Instead, investors are directed to “refer all queries to the C-REC Secretariat” – and any requests for meeting shall go through a system being institutionalized by the DoE.
The policy shall cover all applicants of RE service contracts and the existing players of this flourishing business segment of the energy sector.
The DOE rules further prescribed that “simple queries regarding status of applications shall be addressed by the Secretariat.” And for more comprehensive queries relating to evaluation of a service contract application, the C-REC of the department emphasized that such “shall be handled through a meeting, if necessary, scheduled by the Secretariat with the prior approval of the C-REC and shall only be held at the Department of Energy.”
The ‘no contact policy’ similarly requires that meetings with RE applicants or developers be done with “a composite team of at least two people, specifically composed of at least one member of the C-REC and one assigned member of the C-REC Secretariat.”
The DOE stressed that “only authorized representatives of developers/applicants on record as recognized by the C-REC, or with sufficient proof of authority, shall be entertained by the C-REC Secretariat.”
It was further mandated that “all meetings shall be recorded and a summary of the highlights shall be endorsed by the Secretariat to the C-REC for appropriate action.”