Micro-grid systems to accelerate PH electrification pushed

One of the ‘unaccomplished’ promises of the Duterte administration is full electrification of all households in the country, but that goal can be hastened with the deployment of micro-grid systems, especially in isolated communities and far-flung areas, according to Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian.

He opined that “there’s still hope that it can still be realized once the bill which promotes the use of microgrid systems, as a means to supply electric power in the rural areas, is set in place.”

As defined, a microgrid system is a ‘decentralized source of energy or power loads’ that is normally operated through connected and synchronous power systems, but can also viably operate or can function autonomously (island-mode) even if it is disconnected from interconnected power grids.

The lawmaker said his self-authored Senate Bill 1928 or the proposed Microgrid Systems Act, is targeting to “accelerate the total electrification of the country by allowing the private sector a clear avenue on how they can participate in the electrification in unserved and underserved areas.”

To note, the Duterte administration has committed to the Filipino people that all households will already have access to electricity services before he steps down by June next year.

At this stage, however, the government’s performance on that space may not likely be up-to-target, mainly due to dismal financial allocation to programmed electrification projects.

In Gatchalian’s view, that dilemma on electrification funding as well as the clamor by investors for clear policies on their entry can be addressed by his bill that already passed third and final reading on Monday (September 13).

The next process to that will be bicameral deliberations before the final form of the measure will be crafted and passed on to Malacanang for President Duterte’s final approval.

“This bill is meant to address the legal gaps as well as policy gaps in terms of the nationwide total electrification program of the government,” Gatchalian stressed.

The solon added “the Department of Energy’s self-imposed 2022 deadline is fast approaching,” hence, he emphasized that “it can become significantly more feasible” for that target to be concretized if the underpinning policy for microgrids will be passed into law.

“By 2022, hopefully, we will all have electricity in our homes. This is a tall order considering that we are an archipelagic country and that’s why the committee sees it fit to use new and innovative technologies, such as microgrids, and the use of private capital to reach total electrification by 2022,”Gatchalian indicated.

He explained that microgrid systems “are well-suited to electrify unserved and underserved areas in the absence of main grid connection or insufficiency of supply due to specific reasons related to quality of service.”

Gatchalian emphasized the proposed legislation will “clearly identify the processes and reduce red tape, so that we employ and encourage the private sector to come in, use private capital and help the government to roll out its total electrification plan.”