Malacañang-led steering committee set for energy projects’ permitting

By Myrna M. Velasco – June 23, 2019, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

A Malacañang-led steering committee has been formed to concretize frameworks on the proposed streamlining of energy projects’ permitting under the “Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop Act” (EVOSS), an information technology-underpinned platform in the documentation and processing of power project applications.

EVOSS, as defined under Republic Act 11234, is an “online system that allows coordinated submission and synchronous processing of all required data and information, and provides a single decision-making portal for actions on applications for permits or certifications necessary for, or related to, an application of a proponent for new power generation, transmission or distribution projects.”

The Department of Energy (DOE), which is the lead agency in implementing the EVOSS Act, has at least one-year leeway under the law to establish the prescribed IT platform for the licensing and permitting of power project applications.

The department’s initial step into implementing the law had been the creation of the steering committee that will have the Office of the President as chairperson; and the Energy Secretary as vice chairperson.

That steering committee will have memberships from the Departments of Agriculture; Agrarian Reform; Environment and Natural Resources; Interior and Local Government; Information and Communications Technology; the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC); National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP); National Water Resources Board; the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines for the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market; as well as that of system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.

In an implementation Circular issued by the DOE, it specified that the steering committee “shall exist only for a period of two years from the effectivity of the Act.”

The steering committee, it was expounded, shall “create a detailed process flow for each phase of the permitting process for each kind of power generation, transmission or distribution project.”

The factors to be considered shall include “documentary requirements and fees from each government agency and other entities involved in the permitting process.”

Further, it was stipulated that government agencies involved in the steering committee shall come up with an “internal process flow of the entire organization of the mother agency,” including its attached bureaus, offices, agencies at both national and local levels; and such will similarly apply to government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and other entities involved in permitting processes for energy projects.

The relevant government entities shall also provide specifics on the maximum number of days as to when they could act on applications – and it was prescribed that such shall be “within the timeframe indicated in the Act…whichever is shorter.”

The EVOSS law prescribes the establishment of “unified forms of electronic documents to replace existing documentary requirements.”

With the shortened and harmonized processes of project permitting and licensing requirements, it is expected that investors’ dilemma on this part of their project implementations could finally be eased.