DOE set to release standards, pricing for solar rooftop installations

At a glance

  • The lack of standards for solar rooftop installations has been hampering the shift of many end-users (also known as prosumers) into this type of technology solution and will also be compromising the safety and integrity of installations.

The Department of Energy (DOE) will issue a circular setting the standards and pricing methodology to be complied with by service providers in the flourishing solar rooftop energy solutions in the country.

In the proposed policy, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will be crafting the proposed standards as well as tariff-setting for the targeted Expanded Roof-mounted solar Program in the Philippines (ERSP).

According to the DOE, the regulatory body will be tasked to “formulate rules and regulations and determine pricing methodology and standards of the ERSP within 120 calendar days” after the effectivity of the Circular.

The department is still in the process of gathering industry inputs and comments on the draft Circular, which will then be the basis for any final revisions on the policy prescriptions before they get firmed up.

The ERC is similarly empowered to “review and amend, if necessary, the price determination of the ERSP every three (3) years or as deemed necessary.”

On the part of the DOE, it will be streamlining and simplifying “the processes and requirements in the development of roof-mounted solar projects prior to commercial operations;” and it will likewise be intensifying information, education and communication (IEC) campaigns relative to the planned program expansion for roof-mounted solar facilities (RSF) either at residential, commercial or industrial structures or buildings.

The energy department will also take charge of comprehensively consolidating the RSF capacities into the overall Philippine Energy Plan; plus, it will mandate other players in the supply chain to guarantee reliable and stable integration of the roof-mounted solar facilities into the grid as well as in the load networks of private distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives.

Consumers that have been first-movers on this technology solution have been incessantly complaining on the lack of standards, as well as the non-existence of a list of credible or government-accredited list of installers that the public can prudently lean on.

Based on the experience of some end-users, the absence of exhaustive guidelines and industry benchmarks somehow enabled the proliferation of substandard equipment used for solar rooftop facilities while some installers have also been charging prohibitive rates from customers.

Consumers bewailed that while the ERC has list of retail electricity suppliers (RES) and the DOE has registry of suppliers under the Green Energy Option Program (GEOP) and even energy service companies (ESCOs) for energy efficiency ventures, it is apparent that RSF end-users do not have access to a list or record of trustworthy installers and there are also no certification being required from them, therefore, that led to complaints of some photovoltaic (PV) installers disregarding wiring standards under the Philippine Electrical Code.

They further lament the fact that the Philippines does not have equipment standards for solar rooftop PV installations and there are also no ‘grounding standards’, thus, that have been fueling doubts on the integrity of the inverters when it comes to electrical shocks and damage from surge currents.

Additionally, there are grumbles about local government units (LGUs) imposing different processes and requirements; and customers feel that they’re like being spun in a whirlpool because they are confused with the very complex and multiple rules.

Other complaints include the fact that many electric cooperatives are still not that familiar with the net metering rules administered through government edicts, hence, they cannot properly guide end-users who are opting to shift on their energy usage.