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House ratifies microgrid bill bicameral conference report

THE HOUSE of Representatives ratified Wednesday the bicameral conference committee report on a bill seeking to promote the use of microgrid systems for total electrification.

The measure is now set to be sent to Malacanang for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signature. The Senate ratified the measure on Nov. 9.

The harmonized version will set guidelines governing the competitive selection process for electrification to underserved and unserved areas. The guidelines establish a preference for systems that are least-cost, indigenous, renewable, and environment-friendly energy sources.

The selection process should be no longer than 90 calendar days after published requirements are completely submitted to regulators.

DUs (Distribution Utilities) and microgrid system providers (MGSP) are also given the opportunity to submit a superior offer within seven calendar days after the announcement of the winning firm.

MGSPs can also offer all-in price offers to the Department of Energy or the National Power Corp. to provide integrated power generation and distribution services in a DU-identified unserved area within 30 days from the publication of a list of these areas.

However, if DUs provide a lower offer or no MGSPs make an offer to serve a particular unserved area, the DU are required to electrify the area within 18 months from the expiration of the period to tender an offer.

The measure also grants DUs and MGSPs provisional authority to start collecting the rates specified in the award while awaiting the final decision of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on the respective rate-fixing applications.

The ERC is required to make a decision determining the final rate within 135 calendar days from receipt of a complete application from a DU or MGSP.

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) has said that the government’s 100% electrification target may be achieved as early as June given adequate funding.

Some 12,000 sitios still need to be connected to the grid, the NEA estimates, which will require some P18 billion. — Russell Louis C. Ku

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