THE Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the Energy Virtual One Stop Shop (EVOSS) Act that aims to eliminate “red tape” in the approval of energy generating projects.
Voting 13-1-1, the senators passed Senate Bill 1439 or the EVOSS Act of 2017.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, said the bill “seeks to streamline the permitting process of new energy generation projects, thus cutting the length of the permitting process in half.”
EVOSS is an online system that “allows single submission and synchronous processing of required data and information and provides a single decision making portal for the evaluation of new power generation projects.”
Gatchalian said developers of run-of-river hydro plants in the country have to secure 359 signatures from 74 regulatory agencies and attached bureaus in a permitting process that takes around 1,340 days–or three and a half years–to complete.
“Based on my conversations with industry analysts and our own internal research, cutting down red tape could reduce consumer electricity prices by as much as P1 per kilowatt per hour (kWh),” he said. This would translate to a total consumer savings of P55.2 billion a year, or annual savings of P2,400 for ordinary families in the metropolis.
Under the bill, specified government agencies are given timeframes to release actions on applications. For example, the Department of Energy and all its attached agencies and offices would be given 60 days to release actions on applications.
On the other hand, the Department of Agrarian Reform and its attached agencies would be given 90 days while the Department of Environment and Natural Resources would have 75 days to act on applications. Applications will be deemed approved if these agencies fail to act within the specified timeframes.
Government officers or employees who fail to comply with the set timeframes would be subjected to administrative penalties ranging from a 30-day suspension without pay to dismissal and perpetual disqualification from public service.
EVOSS would ensure the “secure, accessible and paperless” processing of documentary requirements, assessment and payment of charges and fees, status updates and progress monitoring, not only for applicants, but also for national and local government offices and entities involved in the permitting process of energy generation projects.
“The platform effectively eliminates repetitive form submission, the need to physically transport documents from one agency to another, and existing constraints that prevent multiple agencies from simultaneously processing applications,” Gatchalian said.