February 24, 2017, 2:53 am
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Granting of power permits to be eased

The Department of Energy plans to facilitate the granting of licenses and permits to power projects to hasten the integration of the island grids.

DOE said it is pushing for an executive order (EO) or legislation that would make power projects projects of national significance.

 “So that we can realize our objective of having sufficient power supply, we need to make power projects as projects of national significance… As soon as we get an EO, that will expedite things because we’re looking at requirements of 2019 and beyond,” said Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said on  the sidelines of a Senate hearing on energy.

Cusi said the move is also being eyed to fast track the planned Visayas-Mindanao grid interconnection.

 “We need that to realize the plan. It was a project that was planned a long time ago especially that it will help in the security of power through power sharing... We want to make sure that it will not go beyond 2020 (timeline),” Cusi added.

 The DOE  said  it will also  facilitate the permitting process of power projects by requesting to have the power to grant environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) of power projects instead of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

 “It’s a proposal because there were previous practices that the ECC was delegated to another agency like the Laguna Lake Development Authority. We are also looking at that to streamline in accordance to the instructions of the president to fast track all permits,” said Felix William Fuentebella, DOE undersecretary.

Fuentebella said  this would  cut permitting process from “years to months” depending on the type of technology.

 “(The draft EO) is with the executive secretary’s office. It would be better if there is  a legislation but we can also look into an executive order. There would be more leeway if it would be done through legislation,” Fuentebella said.

 The DOE also said the EO would involve 22 agencies to ease permitting processes for power projects including the DENR, National Commission Indigenous Peoples, local government units and even barangay offices.

 The EO would  expedite time-bound permitting process of business permits, licenses and clearances. It would also provide for the protection of power projects from being subject of judicial reliefs; injunctions and preliminary mandatory injunction.

The EO aims to pursue the   implementation of a power supply auction system; encourage economies-of-scale power projects; expedite right-of-way acquisitions; ensure security of the lines; and to implement aggregation of electric cooperatives.
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