SOLAR energy developers appealed to the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission to fast-track the processing of applications and approval of permits through online mechanisms to help complete the on-going energy infrastructure projects across the country.

In two separate letters to the agencies on April 30, the Philippine Solar and Storage Energy Alliance (PSSEA) said that now is the “perfect time to put up the online system and process applications without the need for face-to-face interaction.”

“Such system will effectively allow government and private sector to achieve its mutual interest of project completion of all energy infrastructure projects without risking public health,” it added.

According to PSSEA Chairperson Tetchi C. Capellan, the commission told them that the agency is currently processing pending applications and cases electronically.

The appeal came as the solar energy industry is gearing up for workplace adjustments after the easing of quarantine protocols by mid-May.

Ms. Capellan said that most solar companies are preoccupied with imposing social distancing protocols to protect their workers from COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) after the lockdown period.

The group said it had conducted a survey among member solar energy firms, which revealed that most of them will continue implementing modified work arrangements, such as work rotations and work-from-home schemes, until June.

Solar firms also plan to reconfigure their office spaces to rigidly enforce the recommended two-meter distance protocol, while they make the wearing of face masks or shields mandatory.

Further, some companies will be conducting rapid testing for COVID-19 to their employees. For example, SunAsia Energy, Inc. will make rapid testing available for all their employees, free-of-charge, to be administered soon as they go back to work.

“[W]e expect repeat tests for better disease surveillance especially among high risks employees who reside in congested communities and are more vulnerable due to their daily commute and wider contact with people,” Karen Capellan, the business development manager and safety coordinator of SunAsia Energy, was quoted as saying. — Adam J. Ang