A BILL promoting the development of microgrid systems has been filed at the Senate, with a senior legislator expecting it to help provide power to unserved and underserved areas.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who chairs the energy committee, filed Senate Bill No. 2218, or the proposed ”Microgrid Systems Act,” in line with the government objective of 100% household electrification by 2022.

“The government has stated that total electrification in unserved areas cannot be done by traditional grid extension alone and that non-traditional means — such as microgrid systems — are needed. The problem of energy access is also a concern even in ‘electrified’ areas with limited electricity service, or what we call underserved areas,” the senator said in a statement Monday.

“What we will do is to allow proponents to put up microgrids. These microgrids will be self-sustaining, meaning they will be producing as well as distributing power,” he added.

If enacted, the bill will authorize the Department of Energy (DoE) to streamline the process for the competitive selection of Microgrid Systems Providers (MSPs).

The Energy Regulatory Commission, for its part, will he responsible for monitoring all awarded MSPs and exercising its rate making power.

The measure will prohibit any person, natural or juridical, to refuse installation of a microgrid system, impose charges which are not under the agreed rate and awarded MSP contract, prevent a distribution utility from acquiring an MSP system, and not complying with duties and obligations provided under the law.

Violators are subject to imprisonment of two to eight years and fines ranging from P25 million to P100 million.

Senator Gatchalian added that based on DoE data, over 2.77 million households, or 11.7% of the total number of households nationwide, still have no access to electricity.

“If we want to achieve 100% household electrification by 2022, we need to look for other technologies. Let’s improve the process of electrification,” he said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan