GATCHALIAN VOWS TO SCRUTINIZE SOLAR PARA SA BAYAN FRANCHISE
MANILA — Senate energy committee chairman Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday said his panel will carefully study whether to grant Solar Para sa Bayan Corp. a national franchise or just allow the firm to participate in the Qualified Third Party (QTP) program of the Department of Energy (DOE).
Gatchalian made the statement after his committee deliberated on the bill seeking to grant a 25-year congressional franchise for the renewable energy firm.
“Ito ang pinag-aaralan namin ng mabuti dahil itong ino-offer, bagong tech ito. Pag-aaralan pa kung kelangan ng franchise o pwede na pumasok sa existing ito ang Qualified Third Party (We are carefully looking into this since it offers a new technology. We will determine if a franchise is necessary or the firm could just participate into the existing mechanism of the Qualified Third Party program),” Gatchalian said.
Under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, the provision of electric service in remote and unviable villages that the franchised utility is unable to service for any reason shall be opened to other qualified third parties.
The QTP program is in line with DOE’s push for total household electrification by 2022.
During the hearing, SPB founder and CEO Leandro Leviste defended the bill, saying it fulfills the spirit of the EPIRA law and is a pro-consumer legislation.
Leviste, son of Senator Loren Legarda, also noted that the bill is a non-exclusive “that is beneficial for the entry of more companies into this previously ignored space.”
“Over a hundred solar companies recently attended meetings discussing ways to apply for their own franchises. They think that this can pave the way for they themselves to have a means to effectively serve these same areas themselves,” Leviste said.
“One company, in fact, in December of 2018, already filed its own bill modeled after the original bill of Solar Para sa Bayan in the House seeking the same,” Leviste added.
In December, the House of Representatives approved on third reading House Bill 8179, which seeks to grant SPSB Corp. a 25-year franchise to construct, install, establish, operate, and maintain distributable power technologies (DPT) and mini-grid systems throughout the country to improve access to sustainable energy.
The bill requires the grantee to operate its DPT and mini-grid systems in the least cost manner.
In the interest of the public good and as far as feasible, the grantee shall modify, improve, or change its facilities and equipment to provide efficient and reliable service and reduced electricity costs.
The grantee shall also charge reasonable and just power rates for its services to all types of consumers so that business and industries shall be able to compete.
The bill prohibits the lease, transfer, or sale of the franchise or the rights or privileges acquired. It also prevents the transfer of controlling interest by the grantee to another person or entity. (PNA)
Photo from Rappler