SPSB hopes House bill approved to bolster goal of solar service to more rural areas

By Lenie Lectura – January 29, 2019
from Business Mirror

SOLAR Para sa Bayan Corp. (SPSB) is hoping the Senate hearings on House Bill 8179 will pave the way for various groups to fully grasp the importance of its goal to extend its services to other parts of the Philippines seeking alternative choices for electric service.

“We are hoping the industry will consider,” said SPSB President Leandro Leviste after the second hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Public Services held on Monday.

Leviste was referring to the groups—mostly from the renewable-energy (RE) sector—that are not in favor of granting SPSB a 25-year franchise to construct, install, establish, operate, and maintain distributable power technologies and mini-grid systems throughout the Philippines.

In December last year, the House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 8179.

“The divide in this discussion is very clear.  If you are a producer, you want to protect the businesses of producers.

“If you are a consumer, you want to have as many choices as possible to have the lowest cost and best service for consumers. There has yet to be a single consumer who is unaffiliated with a producer who has anything negative to say about this bill. We are, therefore, elated that has became clear in the last two hearings on this bill,” he said in an interview after the hearing.

“Again, we see very little opposition to the bill as far as democracy is concerned,” he added.

He said HB 8179 will also help the Department of Energy (DOE) achieve its goal of 100-percent electrification and affordable, reliable electricity for all Filipinos by 2022.

The DOE, represented by Assistant Secretary Gerphy Erquiza, acknowledged this, saying the agency’s concern is to fulfill th government’s electrification program.

“We look at the electric cooperatives [ECs] serving. Step up and serve the people. If they cannot serve the people and somebody comes in… We are not opposing this franchise because it wants to serve the people.

“We will see to it that what is expected of the DOE will be done. We will define what is unserved and underserved. Solar Para sa Bayan will go through the process just like other power-generation companies,” Erquiza said.

The DOE defines unserved areas as areas without electricity access while underserved areas are areas whose electricity services are less than 24 hours, affected by the non-implementation of applied capital expenditure projects with the Energy Regulatory Commission and currently served with individual PV solar-home system.