An environmental advocacy group urges the incoming Marcos administration to take bolder steps in the country’s shift to renewable energy (RE).
The Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship (PBEST) pushes the expansion of the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) provision of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2021 to include electricity end-users who, despite having low consumption, have the capacity to transition to renewable energy.
Felix Vitangcol, co-convenor of PBEST, said in a statement that the country’s new set of leaders should prioritize strengthening public infrastructure, specifically access to reliable power sources, given current and future risks that may threaten the pace of national economic recovery.
“Renewable energy is the future. It is our key to achieving power stability and resilience without being subject to external circumstances,” Vitangcol said, citing 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the Malampaya gas field by the end of this decade, the prolonged volatility caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and outdated power infrastructure in many places in the country that makes domestic electricity prices one of the highest in Asia.
“Thus, as many Filipinos as possible should be given the capacity to access RE even if they are not among the biggest consumers of electricity.”
According to Vitangcol, 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 RE.
“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 RE,” Vitangcol said.
In a virtual townhall discussion of Stratbase ADR Institute held in partnership with PBEST, Maria Yolanda Crisanto, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer of 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,” Crisanto noted.
“If we have more renewable investments, there would be more choices for consumers, and potentially lower cost of energy,” she said.
Prof. Victor Andres Manhit, president of Stratbase ADRi, in his opening statement said: “What I see is not a crisis, but an opportunity – an opportunity to address the challenges of Philippine society. It is also 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.
Dr. Carlos Primo “CP” David, trustee and 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.
“This is indigenous, clean energy that can provide electricity in the provinces, that can spur countryside development,” David said.
“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 added.