THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said is due to hear next month an application by PowerSource Philippines, Inc. to establish a microgrid for Port Barton, San Vicente, an emerging beach destination on the west coast of Palawan.

After ruling PowerSource’s application to be sufficient, the ERC set Feb. 23 for a hearing on compliance with jurisdictional requirements and expository presentation. A pre-trial and presentation of evidence was also set for March 2.

The company is seeking to be the authorized power distributor for Port Barton because the location is “remote and unviable” for other types of grid systems.

On Nov. 24, PowerSource applied for authority to provide electricity services with a request for the issuance of the corresponding authority to operate as a qualified third-party (QTP) in Port Barton, the ERC said in a document posted on its website on Jan. 24.

The company also asked for the approval of its QTP service and subsidy contract (QSSC) with the National Power Corp., under which PowerSource will be the electricity provider for the area for 15 years.

A QTP is an alternative power service provider approved by the ERC to serve in unviable areas, while a QSSC details the provisions of a service contract and the agreed subsidy and method of disbursing payments.

If approved by the ERC, PowerSource will install a stand-alone mini grid powered by two 225-kilowatt (kW) and a 160-kW diesel generator sets together alongside 200-kW worth of solar panels and a battery system.

PowerSource has also applied for the authority to operate in Manamoc, Cuyo, Palawan, where it plans to build a P34.71-million stand-alone mini grid powered by two 216-kilowatt generators.

The company said that if the ERC allows it to operate, it will largely reduce power rates paid by consumers in both areas to P8.5 per kilowatt hour (kWh) from the P33.15 per kWh currently.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11646 on Jan. 25, allowing the usage of microgrids to boost electrification and to provide electricity in underserved areas.

Under the law, as a microgrid system provider, PowerSource is not considered a public utility operator, which exempts it from securing a franchise from Congress. Instead, it needs to be granted an authority to operate by the ERC.

In September 2021, Megaworld Corp. announced it will be developing a P40-billion eco-tourism township project on a 462-hectare property in Palawan over the next 10-15 years. This project will feature the San Vicente coastline, including Port Barton.

The project will feature hotels and resorts, residential developments, a cultural center, educational institutions, a boutique hotel district, and a shophouse district. — Marielle C. Lucenio