DOE suspends granting of permits for priority energy projects

Cusi virtual roundtable

Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi has suspended the issuance of the Certificate on Energy Projects of National Significance (CEPNS), as it undergoes an evaluation.

In an advisory dated December 10, the Department of Energy (DOE) suspended the issuance of the CEPNS for it to thoroughly review its effectiveness, particularly when related to securing regulatory permits, license endorsements, and other requirements needed to complete the projects according to their respective timelines.

The CEPNS, which aims to expedite the issuance of permits and clearances required from concerned government agencies for energy projects, is issued by the Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EICC) through the DOE.

The EICC was created under Executive Order No. 30 of the Duterte administration to streamline the regulatory procedures of energy projects as part of the government’s Ease of Doing Business Program.

Cusi added that in parallel with the CEPNS process evaluation, all applications for the certificate would be automatically migrated to the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop.

The department already issued CEPNS to 149 projects with total investments worth Php795 billion.

Among the latest ventures that were granted CEPNS are Texas-based Excelerate Energy L.P. for the commerciality the country’s first open access liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Batangas; Batangas Clean Energy — a joint venture between tycoon Lucio Tan and another American firm Gen X Energy — also for the commerciality of its integrated LNG project; and Bacman Geothermal — a subsidiary of Lopez-owned Energy Development Corporation — for the pre-development phase of its 29.5-megawatt Bacon-Manito expansion project in Bicol.

The CEPNS process involves a two-phase issuance for projects — the first for pre-development and the second for commerciality.

Projects under pre-development stage include coal, gas, geothermal, hydro, ocean, oil, solar, and wind energy except biomass with an operating contract instead of a service contract. Meanwhile, projects proceeding to commerciality include power plants, LNG, and natural gas infrastructure.

Projects can be awarded a CEPNS under EO 30 if these comply with several criteria. These include significant capital investment of Php3.5 billion, significant infrastructure requirement, significant contribution to the country’s economic development, significant complex technical processes and/or engineering designs, significant potential contribution to the country’s balance of payments, and significant impact on the environment.

Ventures given CEPNS are those for power generation, transmission, and/or ancillary services. They required to maintain grid stability and security, and which are aligned with the policies and specific goals of the DOE’s Philippine Energy Plan.

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