SPSB offers olive branch to critics
Solar Para Sa Bayan Corp. (SPSB) has called on other players in the electricity business to work together toward full electrification across the Philippines, now that it has secured a franchise from Congress albeit with lessened advantages.
President Duterte last July 31 signed into law Republic Act No. 11357, which grants SPBC a franchise to operate microgrids in remote areas of the archipelago.
“We wish to extend an olive branch to those who once opposed this bill, for us to support the [government’s] goal of achieving 100-percent electrification and ending energy poverty in the Philippines by 2022,” SPSB president Leandro Leviste said in a statement.
“It is time for us to join forces and work together for the common good,” Leviste said.
Earlier, when the franchise bill was still pending in Congress, the Coalition for Rural Electrification (Core) described the bill as “anticompetitive, unnecessary and unconstitutional” as well as “monopolistic.”
Core was supported by small and medium enterprises and electric cooperatives as well as the Renewable Energy Association of the Philippines (Reap), Philippine Solar and Storage Energy Alliance, Developers in Renewable Energy for Advancement, and Philippine Independent Power Producers Association .
Leviste said the final version of the bill included amendments that addressed the opposition’s concerns.
These included limiting the scope of the franchise to “unserved or underserved” areas in selected provinces instead of anywhere in the country; a requirement to use of renewable energy, and subjecting SPSB to regulation by the Department of Energy and Energy Regulatory Commission.
The law also obligates SPSB to provide accessible and reliable service, and local employment, with financial penalties for failing to meet these obligations, and explicitly states SPSB “shall not be entitled to any government subsidy.”
“We thank President Duterte for giving new choices for electricity to Filipinos in unserved and underserved areas,” Leviste said. “This is not for us but the Filipino people, and we owe it to the consumers who fought for this to deliver the service they have long deserved.”