More EPNS-certified energy projects coming up

Published January 27, 2021, 7:00 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The number of proposed investments that were classified as “energy projects of national significance” (EPNS) climbed by P113.58 billion as of end-December last year to P795.52 billion compared to a leaner P681.94 in the first half of 2020.

In documents released by the Department of Energy (DOE) this week, it stated that it is currently evaluating and processing 35 new project applications under the EPNS edict.

The energy department qualified that it so far issued certificates to 149 EPNS-qualified projects; while it denied the applications of at least 139 project-proponents.

On the whole, the DOE emphasized that it received 399 applications; and 76 of these were returned; or the project sponsors have been advised on non-compliance to form or they have lacking documentary requirements on their project-applications.

The department did not give details on the new 35 pending EPNS applications, but it is perceived that they entail massive capitalization, hence, the overall escalation in the investment worth of the EPNS-proposed projects.

In December, the DOE announced the suspension of its project evaluations using the metrics and parameters set forth for EPNS, or the permitting edict sanctioned by Executive Order No. 30 that was issued by President Duterte in June 2017.

Energy officials have announced then that review and evaluation of project applications – including those for EPNS ventures – had to be migrated to the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop (EVOSS) system, which is a legislated online platform for project approvals.

By early part of January this year, the DOE-led Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EICC) issued an advisory to relevant industry stakeholders fleshing out the minimum capacity requirements that the EPNS projects must comply with in their power plant installations or the scale of capital required in their energy resource exploration ventures.

It is worth noting that many EPNS-qualified projects are big-ticket investments in the power generation sector, resource exploration activities as well as array of power distribution expansion networks and transmission facilities – including the interconnection of the Visayas and Mindanao grids.

The new wave of investments in the gas sector – ushered in initially by proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facilities had also built up the roll of EPNS-certified ventures in the country.

Despite the promise of streamlined processes of permitting, however, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi told media that it came up as a puzzle to them why many of the proposed projects were still lethargic in securing warranted licenses or project approvals; and had consequently been delayed in project implementations.

It was for that reason, the energy chief noted, that they were prompted on temporarily suspending the EPNS certification policy so they can be given window to re-assess what caused the snags in advancing such ventures in the energy sector.