By Myrna M. Velasco – February 20, 2017, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin
An initial allocation of P50 million has been set for the proposed “Virtual One-Stop Shop” (VOSS) platform for power project approvals that shall be placed under the supervision and control of the Department of Energy (DOE).
This has been proposed in a legislative measure lodged by Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian, in line with plans to streamline processes on project approvals and permitting in the energy sector.
“The sum of P50 million for the initial implementation of this Act shall be taken from the current appropriations of the DOE,” the proposed policy has stipulated.
The VOSS platform refers to an online system “that allows the single submission and synchronous processing of all required data and information, and provides a single decision-making portal for the approval of new power generation projects.”
Permitting process involves “the comprehensive procedure undertaken in order to put up a power generation project,” that shall include registration of a corporation, acquisition of an operating contract, construction of the project and all the other documentary requirements on fees and taxes.
Gatchalian explained that hastening the approval processes, primarily for the next batch of power projects, is highly necessary so the country can be spared from any next round of electricity supply shortages.
“Meeting future demand in a timely manner is crucial because it has cost impacts on the consumers and the economy,” he said.
Gatchalian emphasized that “a shortage of power supply will force distribution utilities to buy from the wholesale electricity spot market where spot prices can possibly shoot up, or purchase from more expensive technologies – all leading to increased retail rates for the consumers.”
By his estimate, the lawmaker noted that “a one-hour power outage will cost the service sector and the industrial sector approximately P4.49 billion,” or P3.29 billion worth for Luzon grid; P646.37 million for Visayas and P556.60 million for Mindanao.
In attracting fresh capital for power projects, the lawmaker indicated that “one significant barrier to entry of new plants is the lengthy permitting process accompanied by copious documentary requirements.”