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Philippines significantly cuts permitting time for large-scale energy projects

Makban geothermal power plant, Philippines (source: ThinkGeoEnergy, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 10 Jul 2017

The Philippines are significantly cutting time it takes to secure necessary permits and licenses for the development of energy projects, assuming that this includes geothermal projects.

The Philippines are cutting down the time it requires for renewable energy projects to secure necessary permits and licenses to start large-scale power projects.

With an Executive Order signed by President Duterte late last month, as reported by Business Mirror, companies wanting to develop power projects only need around 30 days instead of the currently 1,340 days.

The EO states that concerned government agencies shall act upon applications for permits involving Energy Projects of National Significance (EPNS) not exceeding within a 30-day period. If no decision is made within the specified processing time frame, the application is deemed approved by the concerned agency.

“It is the policy of the state to ensure a continuous, adequate and economic supply of energy. Hence, an efficient and effective administrative process for energy projects of national significance should be developed in order to avoid unnecessary delays in the implementation of the Philippine Energy Plan [PEP],” the EO 30 said.

Within the Department of Energy (DOE), permits for all energy projects are processed within 25 days. Securing a permit from the DOE, however, is only 10 percent of the entire permitting process.

According to Sen.  Sherwin T. Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, it takes 1,340 days to secure a permit,  359 signatures needed for the permits to be signed, and involves 74 different agencies, including the DOE.

“So that’s the amount of complexity. This is only predevelopment stage, which is apart from building the power plant,” Gatchalian said in an interview.

The private sector welcomed the development. “This is very promising development. Key is to have the right organization that can execute,” AC Energy President Eric John Francia said.

With this the country hopes to make it easier for developers and investors getting much needed power projects off the ground.

There is though a catch. To fall under this new permitting structure, projects need to have a minimum capital investment of at least P3.5 billion ($70 million), significant contribution to the country’s economic development, significant consequential economic impact, significant potential contribution to the country’s balance of payments, significant impact on the environment, complex technical processes and engineering designs and significant infrastructure requirements.

Based on the Executive Order, rules governing the resolution will have to be prepared within 30 days, so until early August 2017.

It is unclear how this will effect geothermal projects, but as they are falling into the overall energy scheme and policy they should be part of it and see a decreased time for the permitting process.

Source: Business Mirror