PE2 pleased that DOE willing to study inclusion of EE in energy mix

Date Published: 
September 16, 2021
  • PE2 pleased that DOE willing to study inclusion of EE in energy mix
    Screenshot image captures the panelists and moderator of the DAP energy webinar for legislative officers on 16 September 2021. Clockwise from lower left: Usec. Felix William Fuentebella of DOE, Dr. Alan Cajes of DAP, Prof. Joey Ocon of UP, Alexander Ablaza of PE2, and Atty. Jose Alejandro of PCCI. (Image: PE2)

DAP invites Ablaza to energy webinar for legislative officers 

PASIG CITY, 16 September 2021 – Philippine Energy Efficiency Alliance (PE2) president Alexander Ablaza commended earlier today the Department of Energy (DOE) for indicating willingness to study how energy efficiency (EE) can be included as a primary energy resource in a forthcoming release of the Philippine Energy Plan. Ablaza made this statement as a panel discussant invited by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) Center for Governance - Policy Research Office (CFG-PRO) for the fifth webinar under their Thursday Talks webinar series on socio-political and economic perspectives.

Entitled "Powering the Future of Filipinos with Clean and Affordable Energy,” the webinar is an activity of the “Capability Building on Innovative Leadership for Legislative Staff” (CBILLS) program which aims to strengthen civil service in the legislative branch by providing capability building interventions that will enhance their leadership, management, and technical skills.

Dr. Alan Cajes of DAP served as moderator for the webinar aimed at diving deep into the country’s shift to cleaner, renewable, and sustainable energy sources.  The panel discussions highlighted the importance of energy efficiency, clean and affordable energy in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Philippine Energy Plan and Roadmaps, and the future of the  country's power generation mix and financing.

Usec. Felix William Fuentebella of DOE gave a thorough overview and historical review of the Philippine energy sector. His review stepped back to the founding years of Meralco, the journey of the National Power Corporation, the policy directions and decisions of previous administrations, the impacts of natural calamities, the oil crisis and the financial crisis, the background behind the Philippine National Oil Company and the privatization of energy infrastructure. The DOE spokesperson proceeded to showcase the agency’s recent achievements, which include improved consumer empowerment, consumer protection measures, increased electrification rate, the passage of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EE&C) Act, and the strengthening of the energy resiliency policy framework.

The DOE presentation also provided an energy sector outlook, which detailed energy flows in the business-as-usual and clean energy scenarios, the power generation mix, committed and indicative power projects in the pipeline, the 2022 power reserves especially through the May elections, renewable energy (RE) policy mechanisms, and 2040 power sector capacity requirements under both the reference and clean energy scenarios. He closed the 40-minute sector presentation with LNG sector updates, energy sector COVID-19 response and the FY2020-2022 DOE budget.

DAP then asked three panel discussants from civil society, the private sector and the academe to share their reactions to the DOE report.

Alexander Ablaza of PE2 explained that the country’s EE&C Act enables a more inclusive engagement of smaller energy end-users, very much unlike the EE laws of our neighboring countries, whose high energy consumption thresholds assign obligations to only very large energy end-users. Gradually, EE is being mainstreamed by DOE as a new energy and investment asset class, that has to be scaled up as infrastructure development across the economy.

Ablaza said, “Through two or more Philippine energy plans in the near future, we welcome DOE’s willingness to gather scientifically-gathered evidence to support the inclusion of EE as primary energy resource in the country’s generation mix.”

The PE2 head also agreed with the DOE official’s view that a subsequent Philippine Energy Plan should include a chapter on energy financing. Ablaza explained that, aside from the early-stage reliance on debt finance, he suggested that capital markets being regulated by the SEC should flow more energy capital to EE and other energy investments, with debt, equity and guarantees working together toward the 2040 capital mobilization targets. While he agrees that the country’s energy plan start to look at energy financing, Ablaza was quick to clarify that the appropriate financing models, structures, vehicles and solutions vary across the EE, RE, power, and oil sub-sectors.

Furthermore, Ablaza asserted that EE has been clearly demonstrated in other jurisdictions to be the most labor-intensive economic activity in the energy sector. He explained that 45%-55% of new jobs in the US energy sector in the last 3 years have been in EE, outsizing the jobs created in the RE, power and oil industries. Ablaza also explained that a PE2 study has shown that EE can create 45% more jobs than Build, Build, Build infrastructure activities for the same amount of stimulus or investment capital funding.

Atty. Jose Alejandro of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry gave a comparative review of the current situation and the country's past economic challenges and the solutions or remedies reached through rational and economic alternative actions and without limiting business operations and the movement of people. He said the pandemic is levelling the field for pursuing aggressive power program to rev up industrial and economic programs and bring back major investments. Power is a major engine, nerve, and lifeblood of economic growth. In reviving our economy, we must move with urgency, focus, integrity, unity and courage.

Alejandro said that we must pursue the focus on those with the quickest payback without need for government or consumer subsidy, focus on what responds best to industrial power needs, conserve and upgrade those that are qualified and effectively positioned, process and be expeditious in approving new hydro power plants that fit the program. Alejandro said that the urgency of the action is today, since people are having so much suffering. He stressed, “We have to act now or we might miss the opportunity once again to really do something for the economy so we can give relief to the people.” He added, “There is a very strong correlation between our economic development and energy. We are missing a lot of opportunities because of the disconnect.”

Prof. Joey Ocon of the University of the Philippines explained the three mandates of the university to help the participants gain a perspective that as a university, the role of the academe is not just limited to teaching and molding the next generation of Filipino leaders, and to perform research, but also includes the mandate to perform extension work. The academe creates a link between the various energy market stakeholders, Congress, various government agencies and the private sector on issues and needs of the energy sector. Ocon explained that members of the academe typically enjoy security of tenure and academic freedom. This independence from the objectives of the government or funding agencies for their research interest gives the academe a longer-term perspective of the needs and problems of the country. Ocon said, “There is indeed a huge opportunity on the different activities of DOE and the energy sector for the academe to help out on top of their duties to teach.”

DAP explained that as governments grapple to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and recover from its long-term socio and economic impacts, persisting crises - such as climate change - are still at the forefront of global anxieties. Specifically, in August 2021, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 1 report a ‘code red for humanity’ as global heating affects everyone and leaves irreversible changes in the planet mainly due the greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning and deforestation. Hence, scientists and activists have been calling for a shift to cleaner energy sources. However, coal is still predicted to dominate the power generation in the Philippines despite the moratorium on building new coal plants and the move of the government to increase other sources in the country’s power generation mix to meet the ever-increasing demand.

DAP organized this webinar with the objective of identifying key takeaways on issues and concerns surrounding the future of energy in the Philippines and possibly paving the way to policy actions or recommendations to enhance and support efforts of increasing alternative sources in the country’s power generation mix.

About PE2

Philippine Energy Efficiency Alliance Inc. (PE2), is a non-stock, non-profit organization of energy efficiency market stakeholders.

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R.A. 11285 - An Act Institutionalizing Energy Efficiency and Conservation, Enhancing the Efficient Use of Energy, and Granting Incentives to Energy Efficiency and Conservation Projects

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