Senator Win Gatchalian has called on the Department of Energy (DOE) to immediately act on all pending solar project applications, noting that a mechanism is in place that streamlines the permitting process for both foreign and domestic investors.

In a statement his office released Saturday, Gatchalian took note of reports about the mounting solar project applications that will yield capacity installations of more than 13,217 megawatts.

He said the influx of solar project applications is in line with the government’s planned rollout of the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) policy next year.

RPS mandates electricity suppliers to source a portion of their energy supply from eligible renewable energy (RE) resources to contribute to the growth of the RE industry in the country.

“A law is already in place ensuring that there won’t be any delay in the permitting process of energy projects. This is aimed at eliminating red tape and enticing more investments in the energy sector,” Gatchalian said.

“Naisabatas na ito noon pang nakaraang taon, bago pa man magka-pandemya. At ngayon na may kinakaharap tayong krisis, mas lalong napapanahon at makabuluhan ang batas na ito,” the senator added.

(It was passed into law last year before the pandemic. Now that we face a crisis, the law is more timely and significant.)

The Senate Energy Committee Chairman was referring to the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop (EVOSS) Act, enacted last year which provides an online process of completing requirements of energy-related projects such as documentary requirements and online payment of charges and fees. It is under the control and supervision of the DOE.

Gatchalian pointed out that in the long run, EVOSS could bring down electricity costs.

He said if investors see an improved permitting process, they would be encouraged to apply for new power projects which could stimulate competition in the energy generation industry.

“The law didn’t prescribe that we have to set up the system or the software to implement the EVOSS law. The law can be implemented as a stand-alone. If agencies, including the local government units (LGUs), have started streamlining the permit processing for energy projects in compliance with the EVOSS laws, a number of applications would have been dispensed with by now,” Gatchalian said.

The DOE said application processes at the Renewable Energy Management Bureau and the Electric Power Industry Management Bureau can now be done online via the EVOSS platform. Permits were already issued through the said platform.

EVOSS covers applications for a new generation, transmission, and distribution projects throughout the country, including the permits and certificates of energy projects issued by concerned national government offices, agencies, local government units, and government-owned and controlled corporations, among many others.