DOE courting investors for 69 off-grid areas

Published March 21, 2021, 7:30 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The Department of Energy (DOE) is currently enticing investors to funnel capital in at least 69 areas that are classified as “underserved” and “unserved” domains when it comes to energization initiatives.

The entry of the targeted investors shall be via the qualified third party (QTP) scheme, which is the sanctioned policy in luring investors to provide electricity in areas still lacking electricity services – these are mainly in off-grid and remote areas of the country.

For the 69 QTP areas opened for tendering by the DOE, the bulk or 63 areas are in Palawan; while the balance of six areas are in Negros Occidental, according to the agency.

On the required tendering process, the DOE emphasized that the concerned DU shall “conduct the competitive bidding for the QTP within 20 working days from the date of posting of the QTP service areas.”

The department qualified though that if the distribution utility (DU) would fail to comply, it shall be the state-run National Power Corporation that shall conduct the competitive bidding – on the strength of its vested authority over Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) areas or the off-grid domains as enshrined under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi noted that the DOE will “fast track (the) total electrification program for the country,” with him emphasizing that the QTP will be its policy toolbox in enticing capital flow in these ‘energy-underserved’ and ‘unserved” locales.

“We will make electricity available to all unserved and underserved households in the country, and the QTP program will help us realize our goal,” the energy chief said.

The original target of the Duterte administration is to achieve full electrification of all households nationwide by year 2022, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, funding shortfall has been turning out to be a dilemma for the State.

With that as a premise, the DOE is now knocking on the door of private investors for them to plug that capital flow gap in the country’s energization program.

According to the DOE, “participation as a QTP shall be open to any party, including but not limited to private firms, local government units, cooperatives, non-government organizations, generation companies or their subsidiaries.”

It added that even the subsidiaries of distribution utilities can inject investments into these QTP jurisdictions, as long as they “demonstrated the capability and willingness to comply with relevant technical, financial and other requirements through a competitive bidding process.”