The majority of senators approved on second reading on Wednesday a bill seeking to accelerate and modernize the permitting process of energy generation projects in the Philippines.
Senate Bill (SBN) No. 1439, or the Energy Virtual One Stop Shop (Evoss) Act of 2017, aims to eliminate overlapping mandates when it comes to submitting documents, one of the major factors that contribute to the lengthy application process.
It also aims to establish a technology and operations management software platform for all government entities to promote a unified permitting system, which the Department of Energy (DoE) will oversee.
“Toward this end, the DoE shall maintain and update an effective information technology infrastructure system, which shall be updated regularly subject to the provisions of this act,” the bill read.
Also, it shall use an online payment system for all fees and taxes imposed for applications of energy generation projects.
“The permitting process to get a power plant off the ground takes as long as three-and-a-half years. This legislation will eradicate the red tape in the process which impedes the increase of the country’s energy supply,” Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate energy committee and principal author of SBN 1439, said the elimination of red tape would allow foreign investors who can construct cutting-edge power plants to enter the market and bolster competition in the country’s power sector.
The legislator added that the heightened competition would slash electricity prices by as much as P1 per kilowatt hour (kWh).
If pegged at the average household consumption rate of 200kWh a month, this would lead to savings of P2,400 per household annually.
“Essentially, the Evoss Act will benefit working-class Filipino families in the long run by reducing their monthly electricity bills, which will give them more money to pay for day-to-day living expenses, such as food, shelter, medicine, and education,” Gatchalian said.