The Palawan Island Energy Development Plan (PIEDP), an energy master plan crafted by the Department of Energy for Palawan in 2014, is an insightful document that lays down what needs to be done about all things related to power. It is a strategic plan for the period 2014-2035 that aims to address the power challenges of the province including Puerto Princesa City in the long term.

A master plan is a product of strategic visioning – a painstaking and deliberate planning exercise that involved a wide range of stakeholders. In the case of the PIADP, it gathered together under one roof the best local and national experts on the field of energy, as a technical working group that did the methodical assessments to come up with well-grounded policy recommendations.

As the final output of that planning process, the PIADP was endorsed by the DOE and adopted by the provincial government during an event dubbed Palawan Power Summit held at the Capitol on January 24, 2014.

The Department of Energy even boasted at that time that Palawan was the first province to have gone through such a rigorous process as part of its overall thrust to develop an “integrated national energy plan.”

The PIADP explicitly defined the issues confronting power generation in the province as well as the problems about distribution, and concerns about the main power grid and the off-grid areas.

It envisioned for instance that by 2017, Palawan should have a stable supply of electricity coming from a mix of fossil-based power plants run by bunker oil or diesel and renewable energy coming from hydropower sources as well as solar and wind power. The target was by that period, Palawan would be capable of producing more energy than it needs, around 295 GWh, and that by 2025, this will even increase to 635

Evidently, we’ve already missed those targets. And more.

By 2016, the National Power Corporation should have already connected Roxas, San Vicente, Taytay, El Nido and Rizal to the main grid. Dumaran Island in 2017 should have been linked to the mainland grid via submarine power cable traversing the Dumaran Channel.

By now, the Calamian Group of Islands should already have a transmission loop around Busuanga Island, and Culion is already connected to Busuanga via a submarine cable.

What about the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO), which is now at the center of the storm triggered by presidential wrath and a government takeover? Under the PIEDP, both PALECO and the Busuanga Island Electric Cooperative
(BISELCO) should have by now covered about 700 sitios in 234 barangays, through an expanded distribution network totaling 1,515 km of distribution lines.

PALECO’s implementation of its assigned task, according to its officials, had been delayed by the approval of its capitalization expenditure plan by the DOE.

By around this time, we should be witnessing a bold program to energize the areas not reached by the distribution utilities, through a solar-based program supposedly being undertaken jointly by the DOE, the provincial government, and the National Electrification Administration (NEA).

The PIEDP had been divided into three implementation phases, with its short-term targets budgeted for P30 billion which are supposed to be what is already currently being done. There clearly has no such fund for the undertaking. The plan had envisioned that funding was supposed to have been raised from both the private sector and multilateral agencies. Among the options that had been recommended was to renegotiate with the national government for a share of the Malampaya royalty proceeds.

Clearly now, since the hoopla stirred by the PIEDP formulation and adoption in 2014, a lot of balls have been dropped by all players involved, from the national government down to the provincial government, and the industry players including PALECO.

The direction we are seeing from the Department of Energy which is supposed to be overseeing its implementation is completely out of whack from the vision and roadmap set forth by the PIEDP strategic plan. So much about attending those planning workshops.

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