By Myrna M.Velasco
By exceptionally cutting down the permitting processes of power projects, Filipino ratepayers are seen trimming their electric bills by roughly P0.35 per kilowatt hour.
That has been the scale of savings crunched by Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian, the principal author of the newly signed Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop (EVOSS) Law, that will then serve as digitally-enabled platform of streamlining approval processes on energy projects.
Patently, the law that was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last March 8, takes the form of an “online system that allows the coordinated submission and synchronous processing of all required data and information” and will be the single decision-making portal for actions on applications for permits of new power projects.
“With this law, red tape in the energy sector will soon become a thing of the past as it promotes faster, simplified permitting process that would allow foreign and domestic investors with the capacity to build cutting-edge power plants to enter the market and stimulate competition in the Philippine energy generation industry,” Gatchalian said.
In turn, the more intense competition that could be spurred by the smooth running processing of project approvals could help bring down electricity tariff for consumers.
“With EVOSS, we estimate that a decrease in generation costs could lead to reduction of consumer electricity prices by as much as P0.35 per kWh,” the lawmaker said.
He thus further illustrated that for a household with average consumption of 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) – the resulting yearly savings could hover at P840, which could be a fraction of family budgets better allocated to other prime commodities.
Under the EVOSS law, the Department of Energy (DOE) is directed to “operate and maintain an effective information technology infrastructure system,” that will then physically and methodically aid the government in processing power project applications for permits and certifications.
On an interim phase of two years, a steering committee chaired by the Office of the President and having the Energy Secretary as vice chairperson, shall initially administer the EVOSS permitting platform.
That particular body shall have memberships from other key agencies involved in approvals of power project applications and permitting – chiefly the secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Environment and Natural Resources, Interior and Local Government, and Information and Communications Technology, the chairperson of the Energy Regulatory Commission, the chairperson of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples; the executive director of the National Water Resources Board; the chairperson of the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines; and the head of system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.
Following consultation with the steering committee, it was prescribed that the Energy Secretary shall initiate processes for its department to “invest in the necessary hardware and software to improve and update the operation and maintenance of the EVOSS – and that shall include a virtual storage public data center. (MMV)