TAGUIG CITY - Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi today (2 July) reaffirmed his commitment to the full implementation of Republic Act (RA) 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, which promotes the development of the country’s renewable resources.
Speaking at the Energy and Sustainable Development webinar organized by the Ateneo de Manila University- School of Government this morning, Secretary Cusi, however, said its promotion should be pursued, alongside with other energy sources that would give the Philippines sufficient power capacity.
“I fully support the development and utilization of our renewable resources — but without sacrificing the attainment of our energy security,” Secretary Cusi stressed.
The Energy Chief was invited by the Ateneo School of Government as one of the panel members, who provided the government's response on the keynote presentation of Dr. Laurence Delina, Assistant Professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, on energy and sustainable development.
Other reactors were Senator Sherwin Gatchalian and former Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, who is now the president of Meralco PowerGen.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ENERGY SECURITY DURING THE PANDEMIC AND BEYOND
In his statement, Secretary Cusi admitted that the current energy situation “leaves much to be desired.” Hence, all options in power sourcing should be considered, including the possibility of tapping nuclear energy in the future.
"This is why the DOE is looking at developing all possible energy sources, including nuclear, to help the Philippines become energy secure,” he said.
“For those of us involved in policy and decision-making, we must strike a balance between meeting our current energy needs and building a better world for the coming generations. From where we are at right now, we cannot sacrifice one in favor of the other,” Secretary Cusi stressed.
One key takeaway of the COVID-19 crisis for the energy sector, he said, is the importance of energy security. The pandemic has revealed the vulnerability of energy systems, which could be interrupted if industry stakeholders do not manage it well.
COMMITMENT TO THE RENEWABLE ENERGY ACT OF 2008
Focusing on RE, Secretary Cusi said the government has not been reneged in its efforts to attract investors. In fact, he said, the DOE is working closely with the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) for the development of economic zones that would provide clean energy to the locators.
He also shared that since the Duterte administration started in 2016, the DOE has awarded a total of 472 RE Service Contracts, with a potential capacity of 20 gigawatts (GW), which may translate to an additional 8% RE share to our Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES).
“This is higher than our indicative and committed coal plants for the same period, which only has a potential capacity of 14.5 GW,” he added.
Secretary Cusi also informed the webinar participants that the Philippines continues to have the highest RE generation mix within Southeast Asia region.
In 2019, RE accounted for 33% of the Philippines’ TPES, making the country 10% ahead of the regional target set forth in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plan of Action on Energy Cooperation, which seeks to increase the RE component of the ASEAN Total Primary Energy Mix to 23% by the year 2025.
Among the array of the country’s vast RE resources, Secretary Cusi said, it is best to focus on the resources that are readily available and extend all the necessary support to encourage its development. He cited the need to maximize indigenous resources like geothermal and hydro as they have proven their reliability as baseload power sources that are crucial for commercial and industrial needs.
In addition, the Secretary shared that the DOE immediately worked to implement a couple of RA 9513 policy mechanisms that have yet to be realized. These are (1) the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), a supply-side policy, which mandates distribution utilities to source a minimum portion of energy from renewable sources; and (2) the Green Energy Option Program, which empowers consumers to insist that the energy they consume is sourced from renewable resources.
“We are also determined to establish a Green Energy Auction Program with an initial 2000 MW, which would augment RE capacity in the grid. This pricing program will support RE generators in securing Power Supply Agreements and selling their energy through the establishment of a fair base-line price,” the Energy Secretary said.
He added that the DOE is looking at other mechanisms where electricity end-users can share their RE generation during supply shortfalls, as well as further enhancements to existing Net Metering arrangements.
To help promote inclusive development in the provinces, he also stated that the DOE is pushing the transition from oil-based technology utilization to cleaner energy sources, such as LNG to meet baseload requirements in these areas.