By LITO RULONA
Majority members of the city council has expressed their vehement objection to the passage of House Bill No. 8179, entitled: An Act Granting Solar Para sa Bayan Corporation (SPSB).
The house bill was passed to give SPSB a franchise to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain distribute power technologies and minigrid system throughout the Philippines to improve access to sustainable energy.
The disapproval was passed during Monday regular session at the city council authored by Majority Floor Leader and City Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya.
Nacaya claimed that the bill as it effectively grants monopoly and exempts said company from the rules competition and oversight provided under the EPIRA Law and Renewable Energy Act.
“The bill effectively grants SPSB a monopoly over all aspects of solar-powered mini-grid development in the entire country killing all competition in the renewable energy sector,” he said.
Nacaya cited some alarming features of the said bill like (1) No Electrification Obligations
– In contrast to SPSB assertions and the bill’s explanatory note that stress the electrification needs of those with little to no access to the grid, nowhere does the bill mention unserved or underserved communities, nor is there any measurable requirements for SPSB to actually and concretely provide electricity to any specific areas.
(2) Undue Favor To One Private Company – Rather, the bill grants one private company – SPSB – blanket authority to establish solar
mini-grids throughout the entire country, with virtually no government oversight or consumer protections.
(3) Effectively Kills Competition – With millions of Filipinos still without access to electricity, the need is so great that we should broaden the oppurtunities for all renewable energy developers in order to lower power rates and improve services.
Not add layers to regulation and bureaucracy through the requirement of a franchise that has never been imposed before, that is neighter legally nor practically necessary, and that even if this proposed franchise is purportedly “non-exclusive,”.
“It means in reality that solar energy developers establishing mini grids anywhere in the country would be stopped and required to necessity and which, under the normal and open circumstances would entail a long and complex process.”
(4) No transparency and due process. Contrary to the normal practice, required democratic processes and basic principles of decency and fair play.
“This particular bill was swiftly approved by the House of Committee on Franchise after just one hearing, a hearing that included only SPSB and government agencies but NO other entities from civil society or the private sector.