Published February 17, 2017, 10:00 PM by Mario B. Casayuran
The Senate Committee on Energy slammed yesterday the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for alleged unnecessary delays in acting on applications for the construction of new power plants and the entry of prospective players in the renewable energy (RE) sector.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, committee chairman and co-chairman of the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC), rebuked the NGCP for setbacks in the approval process, noting the extended time it has taken the agency to conduct a grid impact study (GIS) – a prerequisite for power firms to proceed with the construction of their power projects.
Gatchalian rejected the NGCP’s alibi that the slowdown was caused by the deluge in applications from RE developers.
He then directed the corporation to submit to the JCPC a list of all pending applications and a timetable on how soon these would be approved.
“I find that unacceptable. There is a problem with the approval process and NGCP has to solve it. How can we lure investors and promote RE and other sources of power to come in when there are unnecessary delays in the approval process?” he said.
Gatchalian voiced these concerns last Thursday during the organizational meeting of the JCPC, the legislative organ which oversees the implementation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).
During the meeting, Gatchalian scolded ERC Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar for his failure to take action against NGCP over the unwarranted delays.
“I want you to take a look into this issue. You are not exercising your powers and authority. You have to be more aggressive,” he said.
Gatchalian ordered Salazar to submit to the JCPC a course of action, including possible sanctions, in relation to the NGCP delays.
Had the NGCP acted quickly on the applications, new generation projects would have come online by now, thereby lessening concerns over potential power shortages in the upcoming summer months, he pointed out.