DOE consults energy stakeholders on RE Standards for Off-Grid communities
 

·    Mindanao Consultation scheduled Nov. 6 in Cagayan de Oro

·  NREB,MinDA bat for more RE in Mindanao Energy Mix

·  Off-Grid Areas more at Risk from Fossil Fuel Power Plants

(Taguig City).  The National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) will conduct a public consultation in Cagayan de Oro City on Monday, November 6 in the continuing effort to increase consumer access to clean and sustainable energy, 

The series of public consultations aims to promulgate a new policy on renewable energy (RE) utilization for off-grid areas, and for consumers in remote areas like islands, mountains and far-away villages.

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has repeatedly expressed alarm over how fossil fuel power plants now account for over half of Mindanao’s power mix, compared to previous decades when hydro-based renewable energy was the main source of power in the island.

Romeo Montenegro, director for Investment Promotion, International Relations and Public Affairs of Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), noted how non-renewable energy now accounts for 60 percent of the energy mix (1,898 megawatts (MW) of Mindanao’s total installed capacity of 3,162 or, while renewable energy (RE) is only 40 percent (1,264 MW -108 MW geo-thermal, 1,061 MW hydro, 36 MW biomass, and 59 MW solar).

"A diversified mix of fossil and renewable energy sources is integral to our overall strategy of pursuing balanced and holistic economic growth in Mindanao," Montenegro stressed.

Pursuing RE development also dovetails with the MinDA's Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework Plan, which recognizes power as a major enabling factor for socio-economic development.

Mindanao-based non-government organizations have also expressed alarm over the continuing rise in the power mix of non-renewable fossil energy sources, especially in off-grid areas like isolated island which would be especially at risk from pollution.

Chinkie Pelino-Golle, executive director of the Environmental group Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) also decried government policy in encouraging private investments in non-RE fossil-fueled power plants.

“Instead of maintaining or enhancing it, the government opened the market for more non-RE sources that pose threat to people’s health and the environment. We don’t have the capacity and competence to conduct our own safety tests of these coal fired power plants,” she said.

She decried how DOE failed to faithfully implement Republic Act 9513, or the “Renewable Energy Act”, which promotes “the development, utilization and commercialization of renewable energy resources,” because “it if does, the non-renewable energy (RE) sources may have not outnumbered the RE sources in Mindanao.”

“We challenge DOE to present their RE plan and concrete steps on how this will be implemented. They have to allocate funds for RE sources because this will help us gradually wean from hazardous energy sources such as CFPP (coal-fired power plant),” she said.

While admitting local industrialization and development was not bad per se, these should be implemented in ways that “will ensure protection and sustainable utilization of our resources and ensure that the future generation will also have safe and healthy environment.” 

The National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) agrees.

 During the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) public consultation held last July 26 in Davao City, NREB said it was inviting green energy firms to invest more in Mindanao to revert to the previous 70/30 percent RE/Non-RE power mix.

NREB chair Jose Layug Jr. said  NREB aims to increase the RE share in the country’s power mix from 24 to 35 percent, or by at least 9,000 to 10,000 MW  more to the total power mix by 2030 by  promoting biomass waste-to-energy technology, wind, solar, hydropower, ocean, and geothermal.

NREB RPS Off-grid Committee Chair Urbano Mendiola and Layug are facilitating the public consultations as a forum to present the latest draft of the RPS Off-grid guidelines and to gather comments and suggestions from stakeholders before its implementation.

The consultations focus on the rules and guidelines for the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) for Off-grid areas, a policy mechanism requiring electric power industry stakeholders such as generators, distribution utilities, and suppliers to source or produce a specified fraction of the electricity they generate from eligible RE resources.

“The proposed RPS rules for off-grid areas will contribute to the growth of the renewable energy industry through increased development and utilization of RE resources in the countryside where significant percentage are using expensive fuels. Thus we will be able to diversify energy supply,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said.

“Ultimately, we see this to spur socio-economic development and help address environmental concerns,” he added.

The consultations are being held with the support of the Department of Energy and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Building Low Emission Alternatives to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability Project.

The DOE also welcomes additional recommendations on the NREB proposed policy from the public, especially from the primary RE stakeholders. All interested stakeholders may send comments until 10 November 2017 at email: techsec.nreb@gmail.com. An electronic copy of the NREB proposed policy is downloadable at the DOE official website: www.doe.gov.ph.

The issuance of the RPS guidelines is based on Republic Act No. 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, which aims to increase the utilization of RE by enhancing national and local capabilities.

The Luzon leg of the public consultations for RPS was conducted on 5 October in Puerto Princesa City and on 12 October in Pastor Village, Batangas City. The public consultation for the Visayas was held Thursday (26 October) in Lahug, Cebu City.