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Sen. Gatchalian reprimands NGCP, ERC for power sector red tape

​SENATE, Philippines – Senator Win Gatchalian​ stresses his point as he vice chairs the Joint Congressional Power Committee hearing held at the Senate in Pasay City, 16 February 2017. (Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN)

Sen. Win Gatchalian reprimanded on Thursday the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for their inaction in addressing unnecessary delays in the approval of applications for the construction of new power plants and the entry of prospective players in the renewable energy sector.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and co-chair of the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC), rebuked the NGCP for setbacks in the approval process, noting the extended time it has taken the agency to conduct a grid impact study (GIS) – a prerequisite for power firms to proceed with the construction of their power projects.

Gatchalian rejected the NGCP’s alibi that the slowdown was due to the deluge of applications from RE developers and directed the corporation to submit to the JCPC a list of all pending applications and a timetable on how soon these would be approved.

“I find that unacceptable. There is a problem with the approval process and NGCP has to solve it. How can we lure investors and promote RE and other sources of power to come in when there are unnecessary delays in the approval process?” he said on Thursday during the organizational meeting of the JCPC, the legislative organ which oversees the implementation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).

Also during the meeting, Gatchalian scolded ERC Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar for his failure to take action against NGCP over the unwarranted delays.

“I want you to take a look into this issue. You are not exercising your powers and authority. You have to be more aggressive,” the senator said as he ordered Salazar to submit to the JCPC a course of action, including possible sanctions, in relation to the NGCP lag.

Gatchalian maintained that had the NGCP acted quickly on the applications, new generation projects would have come online by now, thereby lessening concerns over potential power shortages in the upcoming summer months.

“It is within the powers of the ERC to sanction and penalize NGCP for these delays. The lag in the approval process is affecting the supply of power here in our country and the ERC, the regulator of the energy industry, is not doing anything about it,” Gatchalian said.