By Myrna M. Velasco
The Department of Energy (DOE) is enforcing a stringent timeline of 65 days to approve the applications of customers seeking direct connection to the power grid, primarily industries that have been batting for efficient and reliable electricity service.
The DOE noted it “shall ensure the provision of adequate and reliable power supplies for industrial enterprises with the end view of promoting investments and industrial development and generating exports and employment.”
It thus propounded that “the maximum number of days for the processing of the application for direct connection shall be 65 days from its submission to the Office of the Secretary.”
A draft Department Order has emphasized that “the evaluation and tracking system, including the timelines in the different evaluation stages, shall be strictly observed.”
The processing of direct connection applications, based on the energy department’s mandate shall be governed by a Direct Connection Review and Evaluation Committee (D-REC); that shall also be aided by a technical working group (TWG) and secretariat.
The designated head of the D-REC will be the DOE Undersecretary supervising the Electric Power Industry Management Bureau; while the TWG is to be led by the Assistant Director of the same bureau.
The committee, it was stressed, shall “ensure orderly and transparent manner of processing and resolving direct connection applications.”
The department said it is prompted into easing application processes for directly connected customers so this could serve as a valuable option for industrial end-users.
For many industrial end-users, they deem that directly drawing power from the grid could give them advantage, primarily on the sphere of cheaper costs.
This is supposedly in contrast to procuring electricity supply and service from franchised distribution utilities – although in the era of retail competition, cost worries are already getting eclipsed by the very intense contest that power suppliers have been offering to qualified contestable customers which are generally industrial end-users also.
The applications for direct connection of qualified entities shall cover technical, financial and legal aspects, the department said.
Prior to the final issuance of its Department Order, the DOE has given word to stakeholders that it shall undertake first the necessary consultations and focus group discussions (FGDs) or even formal hearings “to gather and determine all facts relating to direct connection applications,” – particularly from petitioner industrial enterprises; franchised distribution utilities, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, generation companies and other relevant groups.