Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for a measure that will remove barriers to the development of the microgrid system in the country and help realize the government’s key energy policy thrust of providing electricity access to all Filipino households by 2022.
“A hundred percent electrification will have an enormous impact on reducing energy poverty and help improve the overall quality of life of millions of Filipinos living in far-flung rural areas,” the senator said in a sponsorship speech containing Senate Bill No. 1928 or the proposed Microgrid Systems Act.
Gatchalian, Senate Energy Committee Chairman, said the measure is seen to provide round-the-clock electricity supply to “unserved” and underserved” areas. Unserved areas are those with no electricity access while underserved areas are currently served by distribution utilities whose supply of electricity is less than 24 hours daily.
A miniature-scale version of a large main grid but will not incur the high cost of connecting to the main grid, Gatchalian said a microgrid system is well-suited to electrify unserved and underserved areas in the absence or insufficiency of main grid connections and promotes the use of local energy resources for power generation such as solar, wind, and even biomass.
Under the bill, microgrid systems providers (MGSPs) will be allowed to operate in any area where there is either no electricity access at all or where the power connection does not provide 24/7 electricity supply.
According to the National Electrification Administration (NEA), there are 12, 672 unelectrified on-grid sitios as of June 2020 while there are 5,262 identified off -grid and remote areas for electrification as of November this year.
In the propose 2021 national budget, the NEA proposed the allocation of P1.7 billion to cover the electrification of 1,153 sitios for its electrification program.
“If the same amount is given by the national government every year, then it would take close to 10 years to electrify all these sitios. These sitios are bound to increase due to population growth,” he said.
While the installation of microgrids will provide the solution in electrifying isolated communities, Gatchalian said it will also spare the government billions of pesos in spending as it will allow private investors to enter the market.
To speed up the process, the bill simplifies the government permitting process and expedites specifically for microgrid systems the already-accelerated permitting process under Republic Act No. 11234 or the Energy Virtual One Stop Shop Act reducing the applicable time frames by half, the senator explained.