File photo of the beach area in Barangay Port Barton, San Vicente taken in 2015. (Palawan News photo)

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has set February 23 as the hearing date for PowerSource Philippines, Inc.’ application to manage a P251 million mini power grid to supply electricity for 15 years to Barangay Port Barton, a tourism hub in San Vicente municipality, northern Palawan.

The hearing for determination of compliance with the jurisdictional requirements and expository presentation comes after it ruled that PowerSource’s application to be an authorized power distributor for the barangay is sufficient in form, with required fees fulfilled.

A pre-trial conference and presentation of evidence was also set for March 2 by the ERC, according to a post on its website on January 24.

On November 24, 2021, PowerSource sought the ERC’s approval for authority to provide electricity service in Port Barton as a qualified third party (QTP), issuance of authority to operate (ATO), and for the approval of a QTP Service and Subsidy Contract (QSSC) with the National Power Corporation (NPC) with prayer for provisional authority.

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PowerSource has ongoing operations as QTP in Palawan in Bataraza; Brgy. Liminangcong in Taytay; Brgys. Candawaga and Culasian in Rizal, as well as in Cebu, and is about to start its operation in Balut Island, Saranggani, Davao Occidental.

“[The] applicant is a pioneering QTP having been issued the very first ATO as a QTP in the entire country for its Rio Tuba electrification project,” the ERC post said, claiming the development in the barangay in Bataraza “exemplifies the successful economic upliftment of a remote and unviable area through the entry of QTP”.

Section 59 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) and Rule 14 of the EPIRA Implementing Rules and Regulations, as mandated by the Department of Energy (DOE), define QTP as an alternative electric service provider that has been duly qualified and authorized by the ERC to serve QTP Service Areas.

As service provider, PowerSource entered into an agreement with the provincial government of Palawan in 2009 following a competitive selection process (CSP). The master agreement was revised on February 22, 2013, with the the provincial government assigning to PowerSource all of its rights and interests under its agreement with the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO).

The agreement with PALECO was entered on November 11, 2013, to jointly engage in power operation in off-grid areas that are within the power coop’s franchise and have no 24/7 electricity.

If granted the authority by ERC, PowerSource said in its application that it will install a standalone mini grid that will be powered by two 225-kilowatt (kW) and a 160-kW diesel generator sets and 200-kW solar panels with 200 kWh battery.

“Power shall be distributed to three-phase lines with stepdown distribution transformers for load centers providing 220 VAC to load centers,” said PowerSource, adding this will ensure “modest capital cost and maximum flexibility in the early years of operation”.

With the intention of reducing the upfront capital requirement and equity burden and using this to fund further QTP projects, PowerSource stated it intends to engage into a financial lease agreement with commercial banks.

To date, the ERC said PowerSource has manifested that it is yet to secure a Board of Investment (BOI) registration considering the tax incentives given to power developers.

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