Congress ratifies Solar Para sa Bayan bill

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THE House of Representatives and the Senate ratified on Monday the proposed measure granting a renewable energy distribution franchise to Solar Para Sa Bayan Corp. (SPSBC).

The two chambers separately ratified the bicameral committee report on House Bill 8179 allows SPSBC to “construct, install, establish operate and maintain” distributed energy resources and microgrid systems for 25 years.

SPSBC is controlled by Solar Philippines President Leandro L. Leviste, the son of Senator Loren B. Legarda.

The measure was ratified by the Senate over the objections of Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian.

“My objection is based on a substantive insertion in the Bicam Report that will negatively affect the power industry because of the implementation of this franchise,” said Mr. Gatchalian in his speech.

He added, “This insertion is in the definition of an underserved area, which will now include areas ‘where electricity services have been interrupted at least twelve (12) times in the twelve (12) months preceding the date of the determination that such area is underserved.’”

The bill authorizes the company to supply remote, unviable, unserved, or underserved areas in thirteen provinces.

These are Aurora, Batangas, Bohol, Cagayan, Camiguin, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Isabela, Masbate, Misamis Occidental, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, and Tawi-Tawi.

The bill acknowledges that SPSBC is not entitled to “any government subsidy” in setting rates, while empowering the Energy Regulatory Commission to set its rates. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras