Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the approval of the reconciled version of Senate Bill (SB)1531 and House Bill 8629, known as the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, is quite timely, especially at a time when the Philippines is experiencing sustained economic growth in the past few years.
The Senate Committee on Energy, chaired by Gatchalian, and the House Committee on Energy, led by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, agreed to adopt SB 1531 as the base of the reconciled bill.
"This bill is quite important in terms of growing our economy because we all know we need a lot of power supply in the next few years, but the power supply will not come in as a form of physical plants, that power supply can come in the form of savings. Dahil kung nagse-save po tayo, hindi na rin nating kailangan magtayo ng bagong planta (Because if we are saving, we don't need to put up new power plants)," said Gatchalian, the principal sponsor of the measure in the Senate.
"With this in mind, I'm very excited that both the Senate and House panels have a general meeting of minds of approving this bill," he added.
Gatchalian said Congress has been trying to pass such measure since the idea was brought up in the 8th Congress in 1988 but to no avail.
This leaves the Philippines the only ASEAN country, which does not have a law encouraging the efficient utilization of energy while providing tax incentives for energy-efficient projects until now, Gatchalian said.
In a nutshell, SB 1531 mandates the creation of a National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan that defines national targets, details feasible strategies, and imposes a regular monitoring and evaluation system.
Alongside this will be the development and maintenance of a National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Database, where relevant information about energy consumption as well as the application of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies shall be centrally stored.
The measure would also institutionalize energy efficiency and conservation standards and strategies in local governance, through the creation of a Local Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan and the inclusion of Guidelines on Energy Conserving Design on Buildings in the issuance of building permits.
To further encourage complete compliance to the energy standards to be proposed, the senator added that the measure would include incentives, as well as technical assistance from government agencies.
The bill would also create an Interagency Energy Efficiency and Conservation Committee that will be tasked to provide strategic direction in the implementation of the Government Energy Management Program (GEMP), a program to reduce the monthly consumption of electricity and petroleum products by the government.
The European Union's Access to Sustainable Energy Program estimates that a 10 percent improvement in efficiency will save the country PHP55.5 billion, which translates to a PHP140 savings in the monthly electricity bill of the average household, or PHP1,680 per year.
The World Bank also reports that government energy efficiency projects can save the government PHP3.4 billion per year.
Aside from electricity cost savings, Gatchalian said energy efficiency would also result in reduced dependency on foreign coal, avoiding as many as 290.2 million metric tons in imports over the 12-year period.
This would result in average annual savings of USD392 million to USD1.3 billion between 2018 to 2030 at the 50 percent and 100 percent efficiency standard, respectively.
"Energy efficiency and conservation strategies will not only achieve much needed savings for the government, but it can also significantly bring down the prices of electricity and give consumers extra money in their pockets to spend for other basic necessities," Gatchalian said.