USAID strongly backs EVOSS integration of LGUs’ energy project permitting

At a glance

  • USAID with LGUs.jpg
  • The Energy Secure Philippines (ESP) initiative of the USAID has been advancing collaborative partnerships with local government units (LGUs) on the streamlining of energy projects' permitting via the EVOSS platform; as well as in the promotion of RE investments, clean energy technology deployments and embracing energy efficiency practices.

The array of development and technical assistance being extended by the Energy Secure Philippines (ESP) program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been facilitating the integration of energy permitting processes of the local government units (LGUs) into the energy virtual one stop shop (EVOSS) system that is being administered by the Department of Energy.

On that sphere, several LGUs had been engaged as pioneer-partners in streamlining projects’ permitting via the EVOSS platform; as well as on other initiatives such as on the crafting of Local Energy Codes (LECs), formulation and implementation of the Local Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan (LEECP); enforcement of the Government Energy Management Program (GEMP); as well as exploring financing opportunities for government-underpinned energy efficiency (EE) projects.

The LGUs that have been piloting or already advancing on these endeavors include the city and provincial governments of Iloilo; city government of Santa Rosa in Laguna; city government of Muntinlupa in Metro Manila; municipality of Bay in Laguna; as well as the city government of Cagayan de Oro in Misamis Oriental.

During a forum on USAID-supported Advancing Energy Security through Championing Local Actions, Iloilo City Environment and Municipal Resources Officer Ronald Cartagena indicated that their drive on EVOSS integration is still new, so the process is somehow considered a ‘work in progress’ when it comes to streamlining permitting processes for energy projects.

“We integrated already the EVOSS system in our permitting, but the challenge really is when the actual process for the application will really start,” he said.

Cartagena qualified that in Iloilo City, “we have very few applicants – so we are still waiting for applications because we’re determining what level of project-initiatives we’re going to process – it’s still a work in progress. We just started integration into EVOSS a few months ago, so it is still very new.”

For development of renewable energy (RE) projects, including offshore wind, Iloilo Provincial Board Member Rolando Distura, shared that “when we crafted the Iloilo Renewable Energy Code - the ordinance - we have requested and encouraged local government units to identify where there are possible and potential sources of REs; and by that, the 42 towns and the component city are now actually looking into that.”

He expounded that in pursuing this process,” we have been very dynamic, we have been modifying and reviewing it (Local Energy Code) every now and then, so that shows how Iloilo is really into this – we are doing our best in the province.”

Distura highlighted that what he had seen as a success formula so far in implementing the code is “when the Executive and the legislative are working well together in with what they want to achieve, then the hurdles can be addressed.”

Cartagena further noted that when it comes to the implementation of Iloilo’s Local Energy Code, the predicaments encountered include “getting the act together with the city government organization; as well as securing the commitment of both the executive and legislative branches.”

The other concerns delve with “data gathering and collection,” then on “mapping of relevant and comprehensive information.”

At this stage, the different LGUs are still sorting out how they will harmonize and standardize data gathering as well as information sharing – that way, their peers could eventually learn valuable lessons as well as gather inputs on the journey that they have gone through in improving energy policies as well as enforcements of energy efficiency initiatives within the realms of the local government institutions.

In the case of Santa Rosa in Laguna, Engineer Boris Valeroso, head of the City’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Section, conveyed that the initiatives being pursued in their locality had been those on installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells in their city government buildings, retrofitting of lighting systems to light emitting diode (LED) technologies; and the conversion of high pressure sodium (LPS) lights to LED streetlights, among others.

So far, he narrated that in the LED retrofit of their street lights, the city government was able to log 10-20% savings on electricity consumption; then in the installation of solar PV in their government buildings, the LGU likewise posted savings in that energy utilization shift.

The other initiatives that Santa Rosa City has been advancing include those on crafting a Green Building Code; institutionalizing a program on the provision of bike lanes; as well as installation of RE or solar in buildings, especially with government entities.

Valeroso stated that the other policy enforcements eyed by the city would be “requiring all government offices to purchase at least one electric vehicle (EV) as replacement to a fuel-fed vehicle to reduce fuel consumption,” and for the city to propose “waste-to-energy facility to properly dispose potentially infectious waste.”

At this stage, however, the city official acknowledged that there are still challenges that have to be overcome if the city has to make headway on its ‘clean energy pathway’ – primarily on gathering and managing baseline data; compiling comprehensive inventory of equipment/appliances and vehicles; and there had also been no walkthrough energy audit being conducted for all the government facilities.

The LGUs have also been batting for the creation of plantilla position on the designation of Energy Efficiency Officers across government agencies.