THE National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) wants the granting of the feed-in tariff (FiT) or the subsidized rates for the energy produced by small hydroelectric power plants to be extended until the middle of next year when pending projects are completed.
“We’ll formalize our request to the [Energy] Secretary [Alfonso G. Cusi] to accommodate all the capacity that will be tested for FiT eligibility,” NREB Chairman Monalisa C. Dimalanta told reporters.
For biomass facilities, the request will be to allow projects whose energy capacity exceeded the set target to also be granted the FiT, she said.
“That’s part of the meeting that we will have within the week,” she said when asked about when she plans to raise the matter with Mr. Cusi.
Should the request for the FiT scheme for run-of-river hydro be extended, it would be the second time that the Department of Energy (DoE) would do so. The first request for extension allowed developers to complete their projects by end-2019.
“We don’t know if the secretary will agree but that’s going to be our request to him — that we accommodate both,” Ms. Dimalanta said.
The FiT scheme was meant to encourage investments in renewable energy by granting the preferential rates until the capacity installation target of 250 megawatts (MW) each for small hydro and biomass has been fully subscribed.
Under the previous extension, the board has sought a rate of P5.8705 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for small hydro projects and P6.5969 per kWh for biomass projects.
The requested rates were the degressed values from the July 27, 2012 feed-in tariff rates issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), which set run-of-river hydropower at P5.90 per kWh and biomass at P6.63 per kWh. The implementation of the FiT system started on Jan. 1, 2015 and was supposed to remain in effect for two years, or until Dec. 2017.
On Feb. 23, 2018, the DoE informed the ERC of its resolution extending the FiT for biomass and small hydro for another two years until Dec. 31, 2019, or upon successful commissioning of projects covering the remaining balance of their respective installation targets, whichever comes first.
Based on the letter from the DoE, the total capacities of both biomass and small hydro plants built and commissioned or to be commissioned within 2017 have neither exceeded nor reached the 250-MW installation targets. Small hydro had a balance of 215.40 MW while biomass had 111.39 MW remaining.
The DoE recommended that the FiT to be granted should be the rate at the time of the successful commissioning of the projects. The ERC initiated its own review and re-adjustment of the FiT rules as prompted by the missed installation targets.
“For run-of-river, the capacity will be filled up but they won’t be able to meet it within the year. For biomass, they will meet it within the year but it’s excess capacity,” Ms. Dimalanta said. “So the request we’ll make to the secretary is to accommodate both the extension on timeline for run-of-river hydro and the excess capacity within the timeline for biomass.”
She said up to 150 MW of small hydro projects are up for testing, which means 50 MW of the 250-MW target were not filled up by developers.
“I think the secretary is open to accepting the hydro one,” she said.
For biomass, the 250-MW target has been exceeded by about 100-MW, she said, adding that NREB will try to convince Mr. Cusi to accommodate the excess as it will have an impact on the FiT allowance, or the charge being collected from consumers. — Victor V. Saulon