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Senate approves microgrid bill bicam report

THE SENATE late Tuesday ratified the bicameral report of a bill seeking to promote the use of microgrid systems for total electrification.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who led the Senate panel on the Bicameral Conference Committee to harmonize Senate Bill 1928 and House Bill 8203 or the proposed Microgrid Systems Act, said in plenary that the report introduced specific timelines for tenders to electrify unserved or underserved localities identified by distribution utilities within their respective franchises.

Mr. Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Energy committee, said: “DUs (Distribution Utilities) that tender a lower, all-in price offer are mandated to electrify the identified area through a DU-operated microgrid system within 18 months from the award by the pertinent body.”

“Should no microgrid services provider or MGSP make an offer to serve a DU-identified area, the DU shall likewise be required to electrify the area within 18 months from the expiration of the period to tender an offer,” he added.

Another feature of the reconciled bill, he said, gives DUs and microgrid system providers to submit a superior offer within seven calendar days after the announcement of the winning MGSP.

The bicameral report also granted 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.

These amendments were made to ensure the speedy electrification of unserved and underserved areas. “This way Filipinos living in communities that are unelectrified and insufficiently powered will not have to wait as long as the lights to turn on,” he said.

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. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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