On consuming renewable energy sources in the Philippines
Fossil fuels—which, according to the National Geographic, formed from the remains of decomposed, prehistoric animals and plants–are composed of natural and petroleum gases, and coal. Used since the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuels eventually became an indispensable element for human survival as they would heat our houses, run our vehicles, generate electricity and ignite the manufacturing process of common products.
Nevertheless, advocacy groups and other stakeholders have become more critical of using fossil fuels because of their negative impact on the environment. They produce carbon dioxide when burned, translating to life-threatening air pollution and global climate change.
Consequently, the world is starting to turn to renewable energy sources, which the Global Change Data reports to consist of geothermal, hydropower, modern, solar, tidal, wave, and wind biofuels, and traditional biomass. According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy production rose by a record estimated 7 percent, with wind and solar photovoltaic technologies accounting for almost 90 percent.
The Philippines is not any different when it comes to transitioning to renewable energy production, which has reportedly accounted for 10.9 percent of the total energy generation as of 2021. It is within this context that the government continues to encourage the public to invest in renewable energy facilities by implementing a net-metering program.
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), under a net-metering scheme, customers of distribution utilities (DU) can generate electricity for their own use by installing on-site renewable energy (RE) facilities not exceeding 100 kilowatts (kW). Any excess electricity is automatically exported to the DU’s distribution system, upon which the latter will grant the corresponding peso credit and deduct it from the customer’s electric bill.
This program is being implemented pursuant to the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, which authorizes DUs to enter into net-metering agreements with qualified end-users intending to install a RE system, subject to technical considerations and without discrimination, and upon request of said end-users.
Moreover, the Act limits the net-metering program to a system appropriate for Distributed Generation, which refers to small generation entities supplying directly to the distribution grid, with a capacity not exceeding 100 kW.
Pursuant to the Act, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), in coordination with the National Renewable Energy Board and the electric power industry participants, issued the Rules Enabling the Net-Metering Program for Renewable Energy, as amended. Under the Rules, the program applies to on-grid systems and with end-users in good credit standing in the payment of electric bills to their respective DUs.
The DUs are authorized to implement net-metering charges equivalent to supply and metering monthly rates per customer, and in Philippine peso (Php), plus the ERC-approved Php/kWh metering rate based on export energy. These charges may differ from the recommended formula, if necessary, and subject to ERC’s approval after due hearing. These charges should cover the DUs’ system enhancement, additional meter reading and other operational costs.
DUs may install two uni-directional meters or a single bi-directional meter so that they can monitor the energy you buy from, and the energy you export to, them.
In order to avail themselves of net-metering services, customers need to make the corresponding request and submit the required documents before their respective DUs. Thereafter, the DUs will perform an initial assessment and when eligible to participate, coordinate with the customers on whether to proceed with the necessary construction and installations.
Insofar as using solar panels is concerned, customers need to apply for the corresponding permits before their respective local government units (LGU). The application is usually incorporated in the application for building and electrical permits. Moreover, they will need to comply with the specified administrative and technical requirements, pay the necessary fees, and be subjected to an assessment by the LGU’s Electrical Division for compliance with the National Building and Philippine Electrical Codes.
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