Think tank prods Duterte to issue EO on RE development

By Lenie Lectura – July 24, 201960
from Business Mirror

File photo from Presidential Communications.

ENERGY and environmental think tank Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) has strongly urged the Duterte administration to issue an Executive Order (EO) focusing on the development of more renewable-energy (RE) sources.

This after the Chief Executive, in his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona), reiterated the need for the country to develop more RE sources and reduce dependence on traditional energy sources such as coal.

“We welcome the positive remarks uttered by the President during his Sona, responding to the clamor of the public against dirty, deadly, and costly energy from coal and fossil fuels,” said CEED Executive Director Gerry Arances. “His statements are significant given that existing energy and power policies largely favor coal.”

Arances said coal’s 51-percent share in the power mix will continue to grow given the 30 coal-fired power plants still in the pipeline. The Department of Energy (DOE) also projects that coal will only increase for, at least, two decades more, according to the Philippine Energy Plan.

“We urge the President to formalize in an Executive Order the marching orders he gave during his speech to provide clear policy directions to the DOE and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources [DENR],” said Arances.

The group also urged Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to improve  the permitting process concerning energy projects.  We do not want the offices mainly mandated to pursue this transition to be the ones contradicting the President’s commitment to the people, said Arances.

The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said the other day that the DOE is on track in promoting RE in the country. “The regulation of DOE already promotes for that in the RPS [renewable portfolio standards]. We’re just waiting for the IRR [implementing rules and regulations] to come out,” said Meralco President Ray Espinosa.

RPS mandates energy distribution utilities to source a minimum portion of their energy from eligible renewable sources.

“All power generation companies are looking at a time when they will decrease dependency on coal. Also, the grid has to be ready for this type of power. We have to ensure this,” added Espinosa.

Earlier, Cusi announced that his office and the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) are crafting a new program that seeks to build an RE portfolio of 2,000 megawatts (MW) in 10 years.

“We want to build 2,000 MW of RE in 10 years. DOE has already asked NREB to review the concept of giving an allocation to RE.  DOE will make a green energy tariff rate that will be auctioned among them. We will put a ceiling and then [they will] compete [in bringing down rates]. It’s not per technology, but rather per type of power if peaking or mid-merit,” explained Cusi.

NREB is the advisory body tasked to recommend policies, rules and standards to govern the implementation of the law, which granted fiscal and nonfiscal incentives to RE projects.

Cusi said the NREB will further study this and is expected to submit a report. “We will finalize the policy after NREB has submitted its recommendation. What DOE will do is to allocate 2,000 MW in order to develop the RE industry.”