Energy department to fast-track application for renewable energy projects

Posted on September 24, 2016

THE Department of Energy (DoE) is set to shorten the time it takes renewable energy developers to complete the required permits before they can start building their generation projects, officials of the agency said.

DoE Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said the goal is to cut the number of permitting days to 45 from 25 for cleaner energy service contracts using technology and streamlining some of the internal evaluation process.

“We are using technology,” he told reporters on Thursday after the closing event of Powertrends 2016, an energy industry conference that serves as a dialogue between the government and the private sector.

Mr. Fuentebella identified Energy Virtual One Shared System (EVOSS), a Web-based monitoring system for energy project applications, as among the technology-aided initiatives undertaken by the department to hasten the application process.

The system, which also serves as a repository of project-related information and permits, is shared by government agencies involved in the approval process. It aims to promote transparency and accountability.

Along with this, he said the DoE was also looking at merging the technical and legal evaluation process. A department order would be issued to make the move a written guidance for the agency’s staff.

The target shorter permitting period will initially cover renewable energy projects, he said, in keeping with a directive from the president to fast-track government processes.

“From there we are looking at implementing Section 23 of the Department Energy Act, which provides for a 10-calendar days for other agencies or departments to act or resolve on DoE projects or DoE-endorsed projects,” he said.

Mylene C. Capongcol, who was designated DoE undersecretary under the past administration, said the department was assuring the industry that it was facilitating investments in energy.

“We have submitted a proposal -- a legislative agenda, wherein energy projects should be declared as project of national significance given the many concerns that we have identified,” she said.

“Some are saying 180 signatures, 160, but the only consistent number is it’s more than 100,” she said, referring to the official signatories that project proponents must hurdle to start construction a power plant.

“In our recent discussion with the the House of Representatives we will be re-submitting the proposed bill on declaring energy projects as projects of national significance,” she added. -- Victor V. Saulon