The Philippines’ next DOE chief must advocate for renewable energy

The Philippines has made a step toward its climate target by giving electricity users more alternatives for buying renewable energy, but experts say additional utility market reforms are needed to get the coal-dependent country on a more sustainable path.

Manila launched the long-awaited GEOP (Green Energy Option Program) to boost renewable power expansion in order to meet a national goal of reducing GHG emissions by 75percent from a business-as-usual progressing level of about 3.34 billion metric tons in period of 2020-2030.

From 3 December, power users with an average monthly peak demand of 100 kW or more can choose to have solely renewable energy included in their supply contracts under the GEOP. The DOE chief is one of the major officials in charge of such goals.

As per the Power for People Coalition (P4P), the fundamental factor for selecting the next Secretary of Energy (DOE) should be one’s position on renewable energy. The energy consumer advocacy group stated the incoming DOE secretary’s opinion on renewable energy ought to be the “main consideration that the new government should take into account” when choosing his or her replacement to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, rather than their relationship with generation corporations (gencos) and distribution utilities.

As they shift away from coal, Southeast Asian countries are continuing to embrace the usage of fossil gas, generally known as natural gas, and its cooled form, liquefied natural gas (LNG). According to research published on the site Energy Tracker Asia on May 12, the Philippines, like its surrounding neighbors, faces the issue of a rapidly rising population and increasing energy demand.

“What are the needs of developing countries such as the Philippines? The electricity is affordable, reliable, and long-lasting. “We see a worsening of already rising fossil gas costs as a result of the situation in Ukraine,” P4P convenor Gerry Arances stated in a statement Tuesday.

He claimed that the departing Duterte administration chose to rely on imported fossil gas in the future because of Cusi’s policies, rather than utilizing locally available renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, to the detriment of consumers.

Arances stated that President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should understand “how unwise it will be to continue on that course.” The consequences of the country’s ill-considered dependency on fossil fuels, according to Arances, are already visible, with soaring inflation and shortages in numerous items owing to skyrocketing fuel costs.

“Every administration has stated that they wish to ensure the Philippines’ energy independence. “However, their actions belied their statements, as every regime chose fossil fuels – first coal, then coal, and now fossil gas – leaving customers with unaffordable electricity prices,” he added.

He went on to say that the incoming DOE secretary should have a track record of pushing for renewable energy despite political pressure from entrenched interests who stand to benefit at the cost of consumers. Agnes Devanadera, the current chairman of the Energy Regulatory Commission, ex-Sagip Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, and Rep. Mikey Arroyo, the chair of the House committee on energy, are among the main candidates for DOE secretary.

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