THE SENATE on Monday approved on third and final reading two energy bills relating to the energy sector — Senate Bill (SB) No. 1382 or the proposed Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations Act and Senate Bill No. 2220 or the proposed Joint Congressional Energy Committee (JCEC) Enhancement Act.

SB 1382 seeks to lay down a national energy policy and regulatory framework for the use of electric vehicles (EV) and the establishment of electric charging stations.

The measure ultimately seeks to ensure energy security and independence by reducing reliance on imported fuel and support innovation in “clean, sustainable and efficient energy.”

Under the bill, the Department of Energy is tasked with the promotion of electric vehicles and harmonizing policies and issuing regulations on the use and operation of charging stations in coordination with other agencies.

It calls for industrial and commercial companies and public transport operators to ensure that at least 5% of their fleets consist of electric vehicles within the timeframe indicated under the Comprehensive Road Map on Electric Vehicles.

Local and National Government agencies, government-owned and -controlled corporations must also meet the 5% fleet minimum, provided that “electrification of government fleets (be classified as) a government energy efficiency project” under the Energy Efficiency and Conversation Act.

Private and public buildings and establishments constructed after the effectivity of the measure are to designate parking slots for exclusive use of electric vehicles, including light electric vehicles.

Dedicated parking slots should also have charging stations installed, according to the measure. Gasoline stations are to designate space for charging stations. It also provided fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to activities relating to the adoption of electric vehicles.

The Energy department and the Transport and Trade departments, in consultation with National Government agencies and stakeholders, are tasked with issuing the implementing rules and regulations within 120 days of the measure’s effectivity.

Meanwhile, SB 2220 seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9163 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, removing its expiration, which is on June 26.

It also wants to expand the jurisdiction of the joint committee to include existing energy laws without their own oversight bodies such as Presidential Decree No. 87 or the Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972 and Republic Act No. 8479 Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998.

In his sponsorship speech on Monday, Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, chairman of the committee on energy, said the measure is strongly supported by energy agencies and advocacy groups.

“Malaki ang papel na ginagampanan ng komisyon sa loob ng mahabang panahon. Kung hindi dahil sa mandato nito, hindi maisasakatuparan ang pagsasabatas ng mga pangunahing solusyon sa mga problema ng bansa pagdating sa kuryente tulad ng pagpapailaw sa mga sambahayan lalo na iyung mga nasa liblib na probinsiya (The commission has played a major role for some time now. If it were not for its mandate, we would not have enacted many power-related solutions, such as the electrification of remote areas),” he said in his sponsorship speech.

“Despite the achievements notched under its watch, however, the Commission still has a lot of work left to do,” he added. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas