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Wanted a cheaper electricity? We want to hear from you


The Devotee
Advanced Member
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We are sending Congress your messages of support for House Bill 8179, to give Solar Para Sa Bayan the right to construct Minigrids to deliver cheap, clean, reliable electricity across the Philippines, and give Filipinos an alternative choice to their electric utilities.

Electric utilities are trying to stop competition, so we invite you to COMMENT here a message we'll send Congress, so they hear directly from the Filipino people. Please mention your Province and City/Town, and why you believe Solar-Battery Minigrids benefit the Philippines.

Cheap, Clean, Reliable Electricity, to Improve the Lives of Filipinos Today, at Zero Cost to Government, Giving Filipinos Choice Through Non-Exclusive Franchises

Solar Para Sa Bayan (SPSB) is a social enterprise on a mission to bring cheap, clean, reliable power to improve the lives of Filipinos through Solar-Battery Minigrids at zero cost to government. SPSB aims to serve 500,000 Filipinos within 2018 in Mindoro, Palawan, Masbate, Batangas, Quezon, Aurora, Cagayan, Isabela, Panay, Negros, Misamis, Davao, and other areas that want better service.

Electric utilities claim to have an exclusive right to serve their franchise areas, and have tried to stop SPSB’s projects by citing its lack of franchise. Thus, SPSB has applied for a franchise (HB 8179), which is explicitly non-exclusive, incurs zero cost to government, and mandates SPSB to charge the least cost and be subject to regulation. This gives Filipinos alternatives from traditional utilities, and encourages other companies to apply for the same, to increase competition in the power industry.

12 Reasons to Support House Bill 8179 and the Establishment of Minigrids in the Philippines

1) Overwhelming Public Support. A recent Pulse Asia survey indicates 82% of Filipinos favor new options for electric service providers; 60% are dissatisfied with electricity prices; and 89% favor increasing the use of renewable energy in the Philippines. Over 100,000 Filipinos have signed petitions and over 20 local governments have passed resolutions in support of the projects of SPSB.

2) Lower Cost. Filipinos pay the highest rates in Asia, of Php 12-16/kWh in some areas. Solar is now the lowest cost in the Philippines, with rates even below Php 3/kWh (without batteries), but Filipinos are unable to benefit from this because of reliance on fossil fuels. New options will allow Filipinos to choose the lowest cost, and encourage even traditional utilities to lower their rates to be competitive.

3) Reliable Service. Filipinos suffer blackouts from traditional utilities due to the use of poorly maintained and outdated technology, and the limits of centralized generation. Minigrids provide superior service by using the latest technology and de-centralized solutions for each town, and even encourage traditional utilities to better maintain and upgrade their existing systems to be competitive.

4) Universal Access to 24/7 Service. An estimated 20 million Filipinos lack 24/7 electric service, mostly in our poorest regions, despite billions spent since the National Electrification Administration was founded in 1969, and the billions of profits of traditional utilities. Minigrids can serve areas others have been unwilling or unable to serve, and can accelerate our country’s total electrification by 2022.

5) Zero Cost to Government. Traditional utilities receive subsidies for diesel fuel and grid extension of over Php 30 billion a year, on top of other costs, such as the recently proposed condoning of Php 10 billion in debt of Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative. Solar Para Sa Bayan is the first company to operate on a private basis with zero government subsidies, saving taxpayer money for other national priorities.

6) Clean Energy. Traditional utilities are sourcing 80% of their energy from coal, which threatens the health and environment of local communities and contributes to climate change. Minigrids can utilize solar panels and battery storage to maximize the percentage sourced from renewable energy, to make the Philippines a global leader in clean energy while remaining lower cost than fossil fuel.

7) Resiliency & Security. Traditional utilities depend on a grid that is vulnerable to disasters and shortages of imported fossil fuels. Localized Minigrids dedicated for each town and using indigenous resources ensure our energy security and mitigate the risk of power interruptions. In September 2018, when Typhoon Ompong cut off power in much of Luzon, SPSB’s Minigrids remained brownout-free.

8) Economic Development. Minigrid investments accelerate economic development, especially in rural areas, by creating employment in construction and operations and improving electric service to attract new industries and investments, such as food processing (ice, cold storage plants, rice mills), tourism development, and utilities such as water (for drinking and irrigation) and telecommunications.

9) Improved Quality of Life. Affordable, reliable electricity enables students to study at night and use computers at school; hospitals to power equipment and refrigerate medicines; households to use appliances; and police to patrol lighted streets. The Economist recognized Minigrids as an important solution to end poverty, citing a study that villages with Minigrids see double the rate of GDP growth.

10) Encourage Other Minigrids. Previous laws did not contemplate Minigrids, which until recently had limited, subsidized, or donor-funded operations. Granting franchises for Minigrids to operate independently of traditional utilities, and proving the viability of these pioneering projects, will encourage other companies to enter this market and apply for their own non-exclusive franchises.

11) Competition & Innovation. Minigrids not only benefit their direct consumers, but also inspire traditional utilities to improve service to all Filipinos; and accelerate the adoption of new technologies and best practices that all companies can learn from. The entry of new providers and technologies into the Philippine power industry will catalyze innovation to benefit Filipinos nationwide.

12) The Fastest Solution. Minigrids on average take less than 6 months to construct, a fraction of the years needed to construct centralized power plants and transmission lines. Facilitating the ease of doing business and granting franchises to as many qualified companies as possible will support the government’s goal of 100% electrification by 2022, and affordable, reliable electricity for all.

Questions and Answers:

Q1: Does HB 8179 grant SPSB an exclusive franchise?
A1: NO. HB 8179 is a non-exclusive franchise, encourages other companies to apply for the same, and in fact, ends the existing monopoly of traditional utilities.
- HB 8179, Section 19 states: “Repealability and Nonexclusivity Clause. – This franchise…shall not be interpreted as an exclusive grant of the privileges herein provided for.”
- Moreover, the Constitution, Article XII, Section 11 states: “No franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility shall be…exclusive.”
- HB 8179 paves the way for others to apply for their own non-exclusive franchises, and brings to an end the existing monopoly of traditional utilities by giving Filipinos new choices for electric providers.

Q2: Does this violate existing franchises of Distribution Utilities (DUs) and Electric Coops (ECs)?
A2: NO. Franchises of DUs and ECs also state they are non-exclusive and do not preclude Congress from granting franchises to new providers.
- Concerns that HB 8179 violates the rights of DU/ECs incorrectly assumes that DU/EC franchises are exclusive, which they explicitly are not. DU/ECs are given the right to serve Filipinos in their areas, without prejudice to rights of others to compete in those same areas.
- This is affirmed in the 2005 Supreme Court Decision, Metro Cebu vs. Adala, that “an exclusive franchise upon public utilities…is unconstitutional”; and the 1990 Supreme Court Decision, PLDT vs. NTC/ETCI, that no “public utility has a constitutional right to a monopoly,” which noted further that, “to these public and national interests, public utility companies must bow and yield.”
- This is also affirmed in the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992 and Special Economic Zone Act of 1995 where new DU franchises can be granted in areas already served by DU/ECs; and

House Bills 5664 and 8132, which grant DU franchises to new electric providers in Camarines Sur and Iloilo City, notwithstanding the fact these areas are already served by existing DU/ECs.
- In all these cases, the Supreme Court is clear: public interest trumps the expectations of utilities to be protected from competition, and the State’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the people.

Q3: Does HB 8179 violate the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) policy of unbundling generation, transmission, and distribution?
A3: NO. Minigrids do not violate EPIRA’s policy of unbundling. Minigrids are a new technology distinct from generation, transmission, distribution – and not previously contemplated in law.
- EPIRA makes no mention of Minigrids, which only recently gained prominence, along with solar and battery technology. Minigrids are integrated systems that may operate either independently from or in conjunction with the grid, and are distinct from distribution, transmission, and generation.
- Claiming that Minigrids violate EPIRA is like claiming that Electric Vehicles violate the rules that require registering combustion engines. Just as transport and telecoms saw advances necessitating laws recognizing new technology, so should Minigrids be recognized as distinct, given their integrated, standalone, scalable nature. The converse is to assert we have no choice but to extend transmission lines to the furthest sitios, if Minigrids are illegal simply for not being contemplated in previous laws, which is not only technically impractical but also detrimental to public interest.

Q4: Does HB 8179 obligate SPSB to be the least cost and be subject to regulation?
A4: YES. HB 8179 obligates SPSB to be the least cost and be subject to regulation.
- HB 8179 subjects SPSB to regulation, as provided in Section 17: “Applicability of Existing Laws. – The grantee shall comply with and be subject to the provisions of…the “Public Service Act”… the “Renewable Energy Act”; and…the “Electric Power Industry Reform Act”, as amended.”
- Moreover, Section 5 instructs SPSB “to charge rates equal to or lower than the average ERC-approved” rates of the closest comparable distribution utility, “to achieve efficient service for its customers and end-users,” while Section 4 obligates SPSB to be “the least cost”.
- HB 8179 subjects SPSB to regulation, even if overregulation disproportionately adds to cost and slows deployment of Minigrids, due to the small scale and number of sites to reach 100% electrification.

Q5: Does HB 8179 grant SPSB tax incentives and subsidies from government?
A5: NO. HB 8179 does NOT grant tax incentives and incurs zero cost to government.
- HB 8179 deleted the previous draft’s “Section 8. Tax Provisions, Charges and Other Requirements,” which was based on the tax provisions in NGCP’s and other franchises; and deleted the exemption from Section 34 of RA 9136, Section 289 to 294 of RA 7160, ERC Resolution No. 16, Series of 2014, which was based on ERC’s draft rules for Microgrids. Now, HB 8179 does NOT grant tax incentives.
- SPSB is the first company in the Philippines to pursue Minigrids without government subsidies, unlike others which use subsidies from the Philippine or foreign governments. SPSB has foregone subsidy opportunities to accelerate the development of Minigrids and lower the cost of electricity for Filipinos.

Q6: Does SPSB have experience and a track record?
A6: YES. SPSB has deep experience and a proven track record in Minigrid and solar development.
- SPSB already has Minigrids in 12 towns benefiting over 200,000 Filipinos, many times more than the previous installations of Minigrids in the Philippines, given SPSB’s determination to invest even in less developed areas and its capability to finance and construct Minigrids at an accelerated pace.
- SPSB is owned by Leandro Leviste, who is also the owner of Solar Philippines, Southeast Asia’s largest integrated Solar Developer, Investor, Manufacturer and EPC. Solar Philippines has over 800 employees; 400 MW in projects operating or under construction; and an 800 MW solar factory, the first Filipino solar panel factory. Solar Philippines has achieved the lowest-cost solar in Southeast Asia, supplying Meralco at Php 2.9999/kWh, almost 50% below Meralco’s all-in cost of generation.

Q7: Can this franchise be sold to third parties?
A7: NO. The franchise cannot be sold to third parties, under any circumstances.
- HB 8179, Section 12 states, “the grantee shall not sell, lease, transfer, grant the usufruct of, nor assign this franchise or the right and privileges acquired thereunder,” as is the standard provision in other franchises. Moreover, unlike other franchises, which allow the transfer of a franchise, subject to approval of Congress, HB 8179 prohibits such transfer of the franchise under any circumstances.
- SPSB also demonstrated its earnestness by already investing in Minigrids in 12 towns benefiting over 200,000 Filipinos, the first time so many will receive electricity at zero cost to government, and going far beyond what is normally expected of applicants for congressional franchises.

Q8: Are existing solutions adequate to reach EPIRA’s aims of affordable, reliable power for all?
A8: NO. Existing solutions are inadequate; especially according to consumers themselves.
- Anyone who claims that existing solutions are adequate is from another planet. In the 17 years since EPIRA was passed, only 3 barangays have been electrified via the Qualified Third Party (QTP) program, and off-grid areas still suffer regular brownouts, despite billions spent on NPC subsidies.
- This is amidst the fact that an estimated 20 million Filipinos still lack access to 24/7 electricity, and many more endure regular power interruptions. A Pulse Asia survey indicates that 60% of Filipinos are dissatisfied with electricity prices; and 82% favor new options for electric service providers.
- A new solution that delivers cheap, clean, reliable electricity to Filipinos at zero cost to government is indisputably of greater public benefit than the current inefficient and ineffective solutions.

Q9: Are franchises needed for Minigrids?
A9: Yes, if operating as a public utility, franchises are needed to efficiently and effectively serve Filipinos. No, if for private installations or individual solar rooftops, franchises are not needed.
- Franchises are not required for private solar installations for individual customers, and may even also exclude Minigrids for private use, based on the Constitution and Public Service Act’s provision that a franchise is required for the operation of a public utility, which the Supreme Court defines as “a business or service engaged in regularly supplying the public with some commodity or service of public consequence such as electricity...the term implies public use and service.”
- Minigrids for entire communities may arguably be a public service, as claimed by existing franchised utilities, who argue that Minigrids must operate through their franchises, if not secure their own. QTPs operate through agreements with franchised utilities, and are so far for unserved barangays. SPSB’s projects are not through agreements with franchised utilities, and cover towns with existing service. Granting Minigrids their own franchises, instead of depending on existing franchise holders, will support the DOE’s aim of 100% electrification by 2022, and increase power industry competition.

Q10: Is the State’s duty to promote the public interest, or protect businesses from competition?
A10: To Promote the Public Interest!
- The issues raised against HB 8179 may concern the rights of power suppliers and electric utilities, which the above shows are well-respected. But we must not forget, the State’s duty is not to protect business from competition (including the country’s most profitable power companies) but to serve the interests of the Filipino people, who pay the highest power rates in Asia, endure regular brownouts from traditional utilities, and have long aspired for cheaper, cleaner, reliable options for electricity.
- The Supreme Court Decision on PLDT vs. NTC/ETCI ruled, “the decisive considerations are public need, public interest, and the common good… Free competition in the industry may also provide the answer to a much-desired improvement in the quality and delivery of this type of public utility,” noting further, this will “redound to the benefit of even those who may not be able to subscribe to ETCI.
- In the final analysis, the question is whether Filipinos should be given a choice for their electric providers, as HB 8179 provides, on a non-exclusive basis, at zero cost to government. Pulse Asia has surveyed that 82% of Filipinos favor new options for electric service providers, and it’s this voice of the people – consumers, not power producers – that has the final say in a democracy.

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Ok lang yan basta may independent connection sila gaya ng sa internet para may kumpetisyon at may CHOICE ang tao. Syempre tatangkilikin ng mga tao kung sino ang mura. Dapat wala siyang interconnectivity dun sa Main Grid, kasi pag di nangyari yon e wala din silang pagkakaiba sa mga power providers under the EPIRA law. Dapat talaga NON-EXCLUSIVE para iwas monopolyo, kontrol at may kumpetisyon. Dapat din OPTIONAL din ang pagpapakonek para di naman pagbawalan yong iba nating mga kababayan na gusto nilang mag set-up ng Solar panels on their own. Dapat may exemption din dapat sila sa 'Unfair Competition' na provision ng Constitution para di sila madiktahan ng ibang mga IPPs at di sila sakop ng EPIRA law.

Ang problema sa nakikita ko, papalag at di papayag yong mga independent power producers (IPPs) under the EPIRA law. Di papayag ang mga yan na malugi kaya marami dyan magla lobby sa Kongreso.:belat:
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Maganda sana kung hindi monopoly ng solar power plant ang magiging resulta ng batas na yan. Revised muna nila in such a way na hindi iisang corporation lang ang mabibigyan. Kapag walang revision, tiyak yayaman anak ni Loren Legarda.

Mahal ng tax na binabayad natin para gumawa sila ng magandang batas sa ikakabuti ng bayan. Hindi pa nila magawa ng tama.

Walang masama kung magreklamo kasi tayo ang boss nila tayo ang nagpapasweldo.

Hindi mag-i-improve ang gobyerno natin kung di tayo magrereklamo kasi iisipin nila okay lang ginagawa nila.

Parang software lang yan. May version upgrade para maayos mga problems na hinaharap ng user.
gusto kong alamin pa yung batas na yan.. kasi some of electric cooperatives ay hindi sang ayon at inexplain na kung anu ang nilalaman yang house bill.. sana naka attend ako nuon open forum kasi nagpa open ng open forum si sir leviste nuon sunday lang yata
Dito sa amin may windmills at dam kaya mas mababa bill ng kuryente. Noon tumira ako sa manila eh nabigla ako sa bill ng tita ko abot 2k na eh tatlo lang sila tapos wala gaano appliance.
Oh! YES!... just see this thread... I'm late but still... how I wish solar plants were developed in the country (and any renewable energy as well)... Even done at the barangay or even purok or sitio level... To start, all the coops should allow their members to have hybrid solar and resell their electricity to the grid if they produce textra watts. Here, in Palawan you are fined if you use hybrid's a shame! I live 75% off grid since 7 years na and I must say when one of the almost daily brownout strikes, I feel really priviledged to be able to have electricity! Off-grid should be developped in remote places or it's also possible to have small plants manage by villagers... there are so many possibilities! Only the will of the government is missing...

BTW, what is the use of the small percentage that we pay monthly supposedly for renewable energy???
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Maganda solar pero problema pa rin yong mga mahihilig mag jumper at magkakabit sa mga kapitbahay. Kaya ayon mataas pa rin singil ng MERALCO. Tayo pa yong nagbabayad sa konsumo ng mga kawatan na yan dahil sa losses.
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