THE country’s energy chief on Tuesday invited European businesses to invest in the Philippine energy sector and help boost the country’s economy during a business summit held in Makati City.
“We are now in the process of reviewing our fuel and capacity mix policy to really ensure the right level of diversification and balance in our existing energy resources, to avoid overdependence on any one fuel source,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said at the EU-Philippines Business Summit 2016 held at the Shangri-La Hotel Makati.
Organized by the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP), the summit coincided with the 25th anniversary of EU-PH partnership and witnessed the gathering of the private sector from both countries.
“To ignite interest and pave the way for investments, we will identify the portfolio of installed and dependable power capacities, specifically for baseload, mid-merit and peaking requirements,” Cusi said.
“We have held and lined up various energy investment fora and regional energy investment briefings to inform, update and stoke interest in the business and investment community,” he said.
The Department of Energy (DOE) chief noted that the Philippine energy sector is one area rife with investment opportunities because it is capital-intensive and primarily private sector-led.
“Our priorities in the sector remain centered on energy security, with stark focus on increasing supply, improving reliability and resiliency of our energy infrastructure,” Cusi said.
He said the DOE is aiming for total electrification of every household throughout the country by 2020, and is also targeting a “one-grid Philippines,” with the Mindanao grid finally interlocking with the Visayas and Luzon grids not later than 2022.
“We will continue to explore and use local or indigenous sources, like renewables, fossil fuels and alternative fuels, focusing primarily on the development of our geothermal energy,” he said.
Cusi said the nascent natural gas industry urgently requires substantial investment in infrastructure development.
“Our plan is to build a common liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving and distribution infrastructure as part of the future ‘clean energy city.’ Worthy of note also is the plan for total privatization of Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) remaining power generation assets within the next three years,” he said.
Energy plans, ease of doing business
The DOE chief also explained how the Duterte administration aims to improve the conditions and ease of doing business in the energy sector.
“Not only have we remodeled our office workflow and procedure, but have also developed, for pilot-testing in renewable energy projects, a web-based system–the Energy Virtual One-Shared System (EVOSS)–to enable prospectors to monitor the status of their applications,” Cusi said.
He added that the DOE is also committed to maintain and strengthen the predictability, certainty and consistency of the country’s investment rules, citing the DOE’s position calling for the Commission on Audit to honor the sanctity of contracts in the Malampaya gas project off northwest Palawan.
Cusi said that one of the government’s major strategies to manage the surge in demand for energy is the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation (EEC) in all sectors. With the help of the EU, the Roadmap and Action Plan for Energy Efficiency and Conservation has been drawn up, he said.
Turning to energy policies, Cusi said: “We desire a policy of declaring energy projects as projects of national significance–which they really are anyway. Hence, they should enjoy expeditious and preferential treatment in the permitting process, should be protected from court injunctions, and be entitled to incentives, such as exemption from real property taxes and other local taxes.”
He added that the DOE will also draw up and streamline the preferred areas for locating energy infrastructure and that it is studying a National Policy on Clean Civilian Nuclear Energy in order to determine its rightful place in the energy mix, and to resolve with finality the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) impasse.
“[The] DOE commits to strengthen and forge further international ties, with other states and international organizations, cognizant that comity and reciprocity are what really set the stage and the tone for a healthy inflow of investments to the country,” Cusi said.
“We assure the ECCP and the EU business community that investment prospects in the Philippine energy sector are full of promise and potential energy,” he added.