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Gatchalian bats for national energy efficiency and conservation policy

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Senate Committee on Energy chairman Senator Win Gatchalian takes the escalator at a Bacolod City mall after attending a national conference with councilors, 15 June 2017. More malls and commercial establishments are now tapping energy-conserving features such as motion-controlled facilities and natural and LED lighting. Gatchalian is legislating energy efficiency and conservation as a matter of national policy and action for all. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian is calling for the creation of a comprehensive energy efficiency and conservation policy framework as an innovative alternative approach to securing viable and affordable power nationwide.

In his sponsorship speech for Senate Bill No. 1531, the proposed “Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act of 2017,” Gatchalian stressed that “energy efficiency and conservation strategies cover all three fronts of the 3S vision which has guided the legislative agenda of the Committee of Energy.”

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy said the policy will boost the stability of the energy supply by ensuring that we are able to maximize the existing power supply; enhance the sustainability of energy supply through avoided greenhouse gas emissions from power generation; and lead to consumer savings in the long run.

Gatchalian said the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act of 2017, which is the consolidation of Senate Bill 30 (authored by Sen. Loren Legarda) and SBN 525 (by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV), “lays down a solid foundation for a comprehensive energy efficiency policy framework” based on the central concepts of energy efficiency and conservation.

Energy efficiency is defined as the management and restraint in the growth in energy consumption, while energy conservation refers to the reduction of losses and wastage from energy production to consumption through the adoption of technologically-feasible, economically sound, environmentally-friendly, and socially affordable measures.

To illustrate his point, Gatchalian turned to the simple example of an emerging technology – the motion-sensitive LED light bulb. Gatchalian explained that, compared to conventional light bulbs, LED light bulb requires less electricity to produce the same amount of light, making them more efficient.

Meanwhile, the motion sensor on/off switch of the LED light bulb “embodies conservation, because it eliminates wastage and makes sure that the light bulb only consumes power at times when we need the lights on,” he said.

Gatchalian expressed confidence that “employing these easy concepts to the big picture can make a fundamental change in Philippine energy policy”, citing data from the International Energy Agency pointing to avoided fossil fuel imports, lower energy costs, and positive effects on economic growth experienced by countries which have invested heavily in energy efficiency technologies over the past three decades.

To unlock these positive outcomes, the proposed legislation will prescribe the efficient use of energy resources and the promotion, development and utilization of new and alternative energy-efficient technologies and systems; the development, implementation, and review of Minimum Energy Performance standards for energy-consuming products such as machinery, equipment, and appliances, and second, the commercial, industrial, and transport sectors; and the creation of an energy efficiency rating and labelling system, guidelines on energy conserving design for buildings, and fuel economy performance labelling for transport vehicles.

Also included in the salient provisions of the measure are the creation of the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan; development and maintenance of a National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Database; integration of energy efficiency and conservation into local governance through the formation of a Local Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan, and attachment of the Guidelines on Energy Conserving Design on Buildings in the issuance of building permits.

Gatchalian likewise included the grant of fiscal, non-fiscal and technical incentives to encourage complete compliance with the proposed energy standards.