DOE asked to draft framework on clean energy transition

Energy stakeholders called for a framework to guide the country’s transition to clean energy amid the ban on new coal plants and the pressure on the sector to go green.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said in a recent virtual conference the transition plan should cater to the uniqueness of the Philippine energy sector.

“We funded DOE [Department of Energy] to come up with that transition, I believe they are doing that now. But I don’t believe in shutting down coal plants tomorrow and expect that everything will be alright,” Gatchalian said.

The Senate committee on energy head said the transition should be thoroughly and carefully studied.

“I always believe in a well-studied transition and I acknowledge that the whole world is moving to that transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy source,” Gatchalian said.

“But the Philippines is unique in its own setting. Our consumers are very price sensitive, our technologies are limited and we have red tape and all that. So it’s very important that we have our own energy transition that we study and research carefully,” he said.

He said the transition plan should include the impact of the ban on new coal plants, replacement technology, price impact and other factors.

Manila Electric Co. president Ray Espinosa said the transition should cater to “the country’s unique requirements as a developing country and even the price sensitivity of our customers to electricity prices.”

Espinosa asked the private sector and the government to come out with the framework “for the just and orderly transition of the coal-fired power plants to a more sustainable energy security arrangement”.

He said Meralco had no intention to prolong reliance on coal-fired power plants, “but at the same time we must balance this with the needs of our country in terms of energy security given these plants provide baseload capacity.”

Espinosa also called for an increase in the renewable portfolio standard requirement of distribution utilities.

“The private sector has the capital to make the investments, but we need to see which way the government wants to turn or take and that becomes very important when it comes to renewable energy. For instance, today there is good law and good regulation that imposes the RPS on distribution utility right but its a measly one percent,” Espinosa said.

He said while there were talks about increasing the 1 percent to 2.5 percent, this was not implemented.

“Why is it important to us? Because it will allow us to fashion our supply strategy. Today, we are saying from Meralco standpoint with one percent RPS requirement, we will transform our mid-merit requirement to renewables. That’s 29 percent roughly of what we supply our captive market, so that’s a great commitment on the part of Meralco,” he said.

He said Meralco wanted to increase its commitment but the 1-percent cap prevents it from doing so.

“We don’t want a situation where renewables have to fight it out with other fuels and then bring down chaos in the competitive selection process. Renewables should be given space to compete. Anyways, it’s still competitive so it will be open to all renewable supply sources whether that’s solar, ocean, wind, floating solar, hydro. They should be given a chance to compete for our supply requirements for the captive market, away from the fossil-based fuel supply. That is something that we should push ahead,” Espinosa said.

This article was originally published by DOE.