A BILL seeking to modernize and streamline the permitting process for power generation, transmission, and distribution projects was approved by the bicameral conference committee.
The House members of the panel led by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Q. Velasco and the Senate members led by Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian agreed to adopt the Senate version of the proposed Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop Act of 2017. Mr. Velasco and Mr. Gatchalian are chairs of their respective chambers’ energy committees.
In a statement on Monday, Mr. Gatchalian said the passage of the measure would help lower electricity costs, especially when inflation remains high at 6% in November. He estimated that the reduced generation cost may lower consumer electricity prices by as much as P0.35 kilowatt per hour.
“We are optimistic that this bill is poised to drive down electricity costs and provide significant savings to power consumers by modernizing and streamlining the permitting process behind power infrastructure projects,” he said.
The proposed measure seeks to create an online platform called the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop (EVOSS) where prospective developers can file the necessary permits and applications, submit all documentary requirements, and pay the required fees.
The EVOSS system will be managed and maintained by the Department of Energy (DoE), while its operations will handed to a EVOSS Steering Committee.
A strict time frame will be observed by government agencies involved to act on pending applications. Under the bill, the failure of an agency to act within the prescribed time frame will result in the automatic approval of the application.
Administrative sanctions against government employees will also be imposed.
For private entities that fail to act within the prescribed time frame the law provides for a P100,000 fine per day of delay.
Mr. Gatchalian said the EVOSS system will also encourage foreign investors to enter the market as to eliminates red tape in the permitting process. It also hopes to stimulate competition in the energy generation industry.
“The elimination of red tape in the permitting process will go a long way toward rejuvenating our energy sector. It will remove a formidable barrier to entry that has often discouraged foreign firms from entering the generation market,” he said. — Camille A. Aguinaldo