Net Metering PubCon
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) facilitated a Public Consultation on Net Metering on May 17, 2019, in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. The ERC has started conducting public consultations on the implementation of Net Metering 2.0. Since its introduction in 2013, there have been at least 2,100 net metered installations, which is less than 1% of 1% of coverage and gross generation. So how does this affect solar energy in the Philippines?
“The ERC has released the Draft Amended Rules Enabling the Net Metering Program for Renewal Energy, with proposed revisions that make the program less pro-consumer, less pro-utility, and less pro-masses,” said a renowned solar advocate.
What PSSEA has to say
Philippine Solar Storage Energy Association (PSSEA), formerly Philippine Solar Alliance, has submitted a number of proposed revisions, comments, and recommendations for the new upcoming IRR. ERC is clamoring to base the computation of the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) on the gross generation of the entire solar output, which includes the self-consumption component. The Draft Amended Net Metering Agreement stipulates that the Distribution Utility (DU) shall install another meter in proximity to the RE system to measure the total RE generated. Shouldn’t the RPS be based on exported energy traded to the DU? Why is the DU insisting on subjecting total RE generated to fees? This results in the solarized consumer being subjected to a buffet of fees, surcharges, subsidies, simply because of the gross production of his RE system. This creates a disincentive for the consumer to go solar, or even report their solar system to authorities.
Gross generation or exported energy?
Questions are surfacing from all parties everywhere. The battle is between valuation on either gross generation or on exported energy. Exported energy represents the actual energy that the DU trades in as part of its RPS requirement. The question remains: Should the DU have a financial stake on the internal self-consumption of a consumer-owned RE plant or solar setup? Is this supported by RA 9513, otherwise known as the Renewable Energy Act, which exempts RE installations from universal charges?
Then there’s the buzz about solar tax
“The most onerous is the inclusion of a type of solar tax,” said another solar professional, “the proposed amendments even include installing another meter between the inverter and interconnection of loads, to measure total output and charge the consumer all sorts of fees, missionary, UCMD, lifeline, FIT All for the total solar production. How is that even beneficial for the homeowner? If the proposed draft amended rules are approved and implemented, we as a nation will be taking many steps backward. This will actually discourage people to install renewable energy systems, avail of net metering and permit installations. Another result is that many will indulge in underground RE system installations. These very similar tactics have happened in the course of the earlier years of solar – in Nevada, Spain, Hawaii, and Florida.”
As the series of PubCons ensue, let us wait and see what the future of RE and solar energy in the Philippines has in store.