Have US investors ‘forgotten’ about PH? Energy chief Cusi thinks so

Published April 16, 2021, 2:45 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Department of Energy (DOE) Sec. Alfonso Cusi regretted how the United States (US) has seemingly “forgotten” about the Philippines in terms of investments in the power sector.

Department of Energy (DOE) Sec. Alfonso Cusi (DOE / MANILA BULLETIN)

Cusi aired his sentiments, albeit lightheartedly, during the virtual economic briefing organized by the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. on Thursday, April 15.

He noted that US investments, especially in the area of energy and power generation, have dwindled in the past years.

“It is unfortunate that the US seems to have forgotten us, so I hope our American friends in the business community will again take a look at our new initiatives that aim to make the Philippines rife with many investment opportunities,” Cusi said.

In the same meeting, the Philippine official wooed the American business community to invest in the local energy sector, particularly in the development of renewable energy (RE).

Cusi–stressing the urgency of establishing a sustainable global energy future–said the DOE is encouraging the further development and utilization of RE without the Feed-In-Tariff (FiT) subsidies.

He said the Philippine government halted the implementation of FiT because it “proved to be a big mistake”.

“It forced electricity prices in the country upwards. We cannot have our consumers shoulder the financial burden of such subsidies any longer. This holds true most especially since RE technologies and their markets’ competitiveness have significantly progressed in the past decade,” the Energy chief explained.

Asked during the panel discussion which particular area of RE he would like to see more private sector participation, Cusi cited the development of the country’s geothermal sector.

“Geothermal energy is an area that we would really like to tap and develop. That’s the kind of power we need, and we’d like to see investors from the US doing a 100 percent participation in the development of our geothermal energy,” he said.

The DOE chief also took the opportunity to brief the US investors on the updated Philippine Energy Plan or PEP for 2018 to 2040. The revised plan contains the necessary adjustments in light of recent global developments, including the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“By 2040, we envision that the Philippines would have a reliable and sustainable energy supply that will foster a balance between economic growth and the protection of the environment. Investments would be key to transforming this vision into a reality,” he underscored.

Cusi said there may also be investment opportunities in the areas of nuclear energy and hydrogen.

“The Philippines is ready to embrace the new normal. We have been preparing for it and we are now steadily reopening our economy to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.