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Investors urge Duterte to sign energy efficiency law

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By Myrna M. Velasco

Amid fresh round of escalating energy prices, investors and policy advocates of the propounded Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act are batting for the immediate signing of the propounded law and for it to be feasibly enforced the soonest possible time.

The legislative piece will just need one more critical step before it is institutionalized into a firm government edict – its final approval and signing into law by President Rodrigo Duterte.

In the final form of the measure, two major ‘compromise provisions’ had been cast – primarily those touching on incentives rationalization propounded under the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-Quality Opportunities (TRABAHO), which is the second tax reform program of the Duterte administration.

At the bicameral level of deliberations on the energy efficiency bill, the lawmakers opted to cap the income tax holiday (ITH) to four (4) years for non-pioneering projects; and the measure’s inclusion in the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) had also been slashed from 15 years to 10 years.

The committees on energy of both Houses came up with a reconciled version of the measure – and the outcome base of that is Senate Bill 1531 principally authored by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian; which has also integrated paramount provisions of House Bill 8629 of Representative Lord Allan Velasco.

According to Philippine Energy Efficiency (PE2) Alliance President Alexander Ablaza, the bicameral conference committee “agreed to re-anchor the fiscal incentives provision on existing Executive Order 226,” or the Omnibus Investment Code of 1987.

As noted by Gatchalian, the passage of the measure is one decisive step for Congress because this will entail investment-avoidance on additional power capacities, which essentially could redound to cost reduction on the pockets of consumers.

“The power supply will not come in as a form of physical plants, the power supply can come in the form of savings,” he explained.

Essentially, as noted by experts, energy efficiency is a low-hanging fruit or that power supply that is just there and ready to be reaped as ‘cost savings’ if only consumers would shift to more energy-efficient way of consumption.

As indicated, a lengthy part of discussion at the bicameral level had been on the role of local government units (LGUs) in spurring energy efficiency practice among end-users and other relevant stakeholders.

When the proposed legislation is signed into law, there is already a mandate for them to set up Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EEC) office and to appoint their respective EEC officer.

Essentially, this will establish energy efficiency and conservation standards and strategies in local governance through the creation of local energy efficiency and conservation plan; as well as the inclusion of guidelines on energy conserving design on buildings in the issuance of building permits.

The targeted law further mandates the development and maintenance of a National Energy Efficiency and Conservation database, where relevant information about energy consumption as well as the application of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies shall be centrally stored.

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