Incoming Marcos admin urged to take bolder steps to expand access to renewable energy

Published June 27, 2022, 10:38 AM

by Aaron Recuenco 

Environment advocacy group Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship (PBEST) called on the incoming Marcos administration to take bolder steps in effecting the country’s shift to renewable energy.

In a statement, PBEST co-convenor Felix Vitangcol said one of the way to effectively do it is to expand the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) provision of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2021 which would include electricity end-users who, despite having low consumption, have the capacity to transition to renewable energy.

Vitangcol stressed the need for the country’s new set of leaders to prioritize strengthening public infrastructure, specifically access to reliable power sources, given current and future risks that may threaten the pace of economic recovery here.

“Renewable energy is the future. It is our key to achieving power stability and resilience without being subject to external circumstances. Thus, as many Filipinos as possible should be given the capacity to access renewable energy even if they are not among the biggest consumers of electricity,” said Vitangcol.

He explained that the impending depletion of the Malampaya gas field by the end of this decade, the prolonged volatility caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and outdated power infrastructure in many places in the country are making the electricity prices here one of the highest in the region.

“The present implementing rules and regulations of the EPIRA Law should be changed, expanding the threshold timeline to 10kW from 99kW instead of waiting another year to allow more industries and their infrastructures to enter and utilize renewable energy,” said Vitangcol.

“Limiting the participants to those with at least 100kWV consumption for the preceding 12 months would be disadvantageous and will only hinder the mass public transition to renewable energy,” he added.

In a virtual townhall discussion of Stratbase ADR Institute held Thursday, July 23, in partnership with PBEST, Maria Yolanda “Yoly” Crisanto, Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Globe Telecom pointed out the energy consumption gap and the need for more energy.

“Why not invest in more renewables, solar, wind, and all of the other renewables that are out there, and what we need is a massive adoption of renewables across organizations including the small and medium enterprises which make up 99.5% of all businesses in this country, and households,” said Crisanto.

“If we have more renewable investments, there would be more choices for consumers, and potentially lower cost of energy,” she added.

For his part, Prof. Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit, president of Stratbase ADRi in his opening statement said that the challenges currently faced by the country in terms of power stability should be taken as an opportunity to build a more sustainable environment.

“Investment must reduce carbon emissions, make our communities more climate resilient, and create circular mechanisms for resource demand and consumption. The private sector must seek to make investments which comply with international standards for environment, social, and governance,” Manhit said.

On the other hand, Dr. Carlos Primo “CP” David, Trustee & Program Convenor of Stratbase ADR Institute and PBEST convenor cited The World Hydropower Report showing the Philippines as one with one of the highest mini hydropower potential in the region with more than 2000 megawatts that can be developed yet only 147 megawatts of small turbines are operational.

David pointed out: “This is indigenous, clean energy that can provide electricity in the provinces, that can spur countryside development. We are relying on important coal and petroleum to generate most of our electricity. These energy sources also increase greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and promote climate change.”

“These opportunities can be done with government engaging the private sector positively. We hope that the next administration will do so and finally improve the well-being of the Filipinos,” David said.