THE DEPARTMENT of Energy (DoE) has certified four new projects as nationally significant, adding to its list of projects that will enjoy a faster permitting process under a law that seeks to ensure energy security in the country.

The department identified the four entities with newly issued certificates of energy project of national significance (EPNS) as Galoc Production Co., Energy Development Corp. (EDC), Therma Marine, Inc. and Philippine Geothermal Production Company, Inc.

The department said it had issued as of mid-August EPNS certificates to 140 projects. Additions to the list were certified between Aug. 19 and Sept. 20.

“Out of 297 accepted applications, 140 were certified,” it said, adding that 157 applications remain under evaluation.

Philippine Geothermal’s Mt. Malinao geothermal project was the latest to be certified on Sept. 20, although the DoE has yet to release details of the venture. The others are Therma Marine, which is developing a hybrid power facility; EDC, with its Mahanagdong geothermal brine optimization plant; and Galoc, which is developing an exploration field.

The DoE said it had so far received a total of 368 EPNS applications, of which 43% are under evaluation, 38% with EPNS issuance, and 19% notified of non-compliance with documentary requirements.

The issuance of the certificate for nationally significant projects is stipulated in Section 5 (a) of Executive Order (EO) No. 30 s. 2017, which intends to establish a simplified approval process and harmonize the relevant rules and regulations of all government agencies involved in the permitting process.

EO 30 was signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in June 2017, while the Energy department issued the implementing rules and regulations in April 2018. The law created the Energy Investment Coordinating Council, which came out with the guidelines on how energy-related projects can qualify.

During the pre-development phase, the certificate entitles project proponents to all the rights and privileges provided for under EO 30, including action on the application within 30 working days.

A certified project will also be accorded presumption of prior approval, that is, it is presumed to have already complied with requirements of and permits from other government permitting agencies.

It will be deemed approved if no action is made five days after the lapse of the 30 working-day period for processing of the application. — Victor V. Saulon