Gov’t ‘pacing, not blocking,’ renewable energy
MANILA, Philippines—Contrary to allegations made by his critics, Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras said he was not against developers wanting to put up solar- powered facilities in Mindanao as long as the consumers were willing to pay for it.
In an interview with the Inquirer, Almendras said he was not blocking the entry of renewable-energy projects in Mindanao, but rather that the government is pacing the entry of the more expensive energy sources in the grids to ensure that consumers will not be burdened by increasing power rates.
“I have no problem if Mindanao wants renewable energy and if consumers are willing to pay for it. I have nothing against biomass and hydro [as energy sources], the applications for which we are approving left and right because one, they can be brought into the grid and second, their consistency levels are good so we can expect less interruption,” Almendras explained.
The energy chief further stressed that neither was he blocking developers wanting to put up solar facilities in Mindanao.
“They want [to put up] 100 megawatts of solar in Mindanao at P17.95 per kilowatt-hour. If the people of Mindanao want solar energy at [that price] and they will pay for it, it is not my job to stop them. They can do what they want and they do not even need to go into the grid,” Almendras said.
He, however, noted that these solar facilities should be embedded, meaning the power to be generated from the solar power plants should not have to go through the grid and thus, not entitled to the feed-in-tariff (FIT) rates.
Almendras explained this was meant to ensure that those who will pay for the power generated by solar facilities will be only those that will use it, so that not all that are connected to the grid will be burdened by higher electricity rates.
Should the proposed feed-in-tariff rates be approved, solar developers and ocean energy project proponents will enjoy the highest rates of P17.95 a kilowatt-hour and P17.65 a kWh, respectively. Investors in wind development may be given a FIT rate of P10.37 a kWh; for biomass, P7 a kWh; and for hydro, P6.15 a kWh. The actual amount to be collected from consumers via the so-called FIT allowance will depend on the volume of power dispatched.
“But assuming [the solar developers] can do it without the feed-in-tariff, they still need to put up ancillary services to stabilize their own distribution systems,” Almendras added.
Some quarters had earlier urged the government not to rush the installation of expensive renewable-energy facilities.
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