By Myrna M. Velasco
A legislative measure to reinforce prospective commercial rollout of electric vehicles (EVs) will be high in the agenda of the Senate Committee on Energy in the 18th Congress which will formally convene toward the end of this month.
The innovative track being espoused by Senate committee on energy chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian on this sphere shall be the creation of “a national policy and framework to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles in the public and private sectors.”
Compared to other countries in the Asian region, the Philippines is basically “stuck in the road” when it comes to its journey of electrifying its transport sector.
The Senate energy committee’s vision is to uproot it from that roadblock through the introduction of a measure and prospective set of incentives that will spur not just capital flow but also technology innovations in the sector.
The upper chamber is also targeting the passage of the proposed Microgrid Systems Act for unserved and underserved areas; and the Energy Advocate Act which seeks to elevate the consumer-advocacy responsiveness and judgment of relevant stakeholders – and that shall be concretized via the creation of the proposed Office of the Energy Advocate (OEA).
The other legislative bill to be pushed by the Senate energy committee will be the institutionalization of the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute (PERPI), which may be a challenging task given the lack of bona fide energy experts in the country that could man the institution. For this particular measure, Gatchalian has to prove that he is not just messianic or a cheerleader about PERPI’s establishment but he has to make sure that the money funneled into that entity will not just go to waste.
Regrettably, the Philippines is among the countries in the world that has fledgling capacity in framing energy policies, research and more so on the sphere of technology innovations.
More developed economies – and even some countries in the Southeast Asian region like Singapore and Thailand, have been advancing on their research and development capacity in the energy and information technology sectors; while the Philippines lurks in danger of having its educational system way too antiquated and the talents it has been rearing at universities have been a “mismatch” to the needs of a modernizing and transforming world.
On the four energy legislative measures that he has been intending to pursue, Gatchalian said “we wanted to have a well-rounded legislative agenda,” with a paramount goal of bringing the cost of power lower; while at the same time, improving the quality of service to consumers.
For instance, in the Microgrid Systems Act, by encouraging this method of energizing the areas on stand-alone systems including the off-grid areas, the country would be able to save on subsidies it has been funneling to end-users in these domains due to their traditional reliance on comparatively more expensive fuel like bunker-C and diesel.