COA reports savings in electric bills under net metering program

Published January 24, 2023, 2:33 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The Commission on Audit (COA) has registered P800,000 in aggregate cost savings following the installation of solar panels in the rooftop of its two-building offices in Quezon City.

The solar rooftop installation of the state audit agency had been carried out in partnership with state-run Philippine National Oil Company-Renewables Corporation (PNOC-RC) roughly five years ago.

COA Chairman Gamaliel A. Cordoba indicated that their intent on patronizing solar as a source of their power supply was “to show support to the renewable energy drive of the government and to utilize alternative source of electricity at least cost.”

Under the net metering program, consumers are allowed to generate their own electricity supply by utilizing RE source – primarily solar – and any excess on their produced power can be injected back to the grid.

On the portion of supply that will be shared to the grid, the consumer-producer (also known as pro-sumer) can claim for cost-offset on its billing, hence, that will generate savings for that particular end-user.

Presently, the net metering program sets a limit of up to 100 kilowatts (kW) of solar photovoltaic installations that each participating end-user can opt to register with their respective distribution utilities.

According to Cordoba, in the last five years when COA’s solar rooftop had been installed in 2017, the agency is already “seeing the benefits in the savings generated.”

Given the positive outcome that COA had experienced on its shift to renewable energy, Cordoba intimated his hope that “more agencies will see the benefits and be encouraged to follow in our footsteps.”

On the sphere of regulation for the net metering program, Commissioner Catherine P. Maceda of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), emphasized that consumers embracing this option are being spared from the distress of rate spikes triggered by surging prices of imported fuels.

“Why should we allow ourselves to be exposed to the vulnerabilities of higher fuel cost when we can generate power from our own resources? This was the resounding argument nearly 15 years ago, when the then Renewable Energy Bill was being deliberated in Congress. Those arguments still ring true, and more so now,” she stressed.

Maceda added the net metering program is “giving consumers the option to produce electricity for their own use and selling their excess to the grid, paving the way for the democratization of the grid.”

The ERC conveyed that since the implementation of the program a decade ago, there are already 7,583 qualified end-users in the net metering roll – the bulk of which are in Luzon with 6,120 customers; while Visayas logged 1,168 end-users; and 295 in Mindanao grid.