Monday, September 14, 2015

Renewable Energy for Mindanao

By Anton Antonio
September 15, 2015

Our energy problem is real.  Perhaps not for Metro Manilans, who have a steady supply of electricity, but for our brothers in Mindanao it is a sad reality.  Economic development will be a distant dream without energy to fuel it.  However, there seems to be “good” news for Mindanao if we have to believe the pronouncements of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).  Sadly, again, there are those of us who consider media hypes are “good enough” action to our present-day malaise.  Before we formulate our own opinions on this matter, please read the following press release:

Mindanao Development Authority
July 29, 2015

In a bid to push for cleaner and greener energy sources in Mindanao, key regional government agencies involved in the permitting process of renewable energy (RE) projects have expressed commitment to accelerate processing and updating of RE project applications in the region.  This commitment was obtaines during a recent regional rounds made by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) to provide operational updates on the implementation of the One Stop Facilitation and Monitoring Center (OSFMC), a web-based portal for tracking RE applications in Mindanao.  Desktop computer sets with built-in software that will allow for effective monitoring of all pending RE project applications in Mindanao were turned over to the Department of Envirinment and Natural Resources-Environment Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) Regions X and XII, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Regions IX, X and XII in simple ceremonies from July 14, to 23 at their respective offices.  “Through these computer units provided by the USAID B-LEADERS Project for this initial batch of regional agencies, there would be a dedicated facility with access to the OSFMC web portal that consolidates the data of all RE applications in Mindanao,” said Romeo Montenegro, director of the investment promotions and public affairs office of MinDA.  Launched in October last year, the OSFMC web portal was designed to effectively monitor and update the status as well as facilitate the speedy processing of the pending RE project applications in Mindanao.  As part of the government response to the 2012 Mindanao Power Summit recommendations, the portal was established through MinDA in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s B-LEADERS or Building Low Emission Alternatives to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability Project.  “OSFMC’s web portal will help track the RE project applications through a monitoring system that includes real-time status updates for partner government agencies and project stakeholders,” explained Montenegro.  Created through the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee (MPMC), the OSFMC was a mechanism established to speed up the approval of application permits for RE power projects in Mindanao.  Its operations hub was opened to public in May this year and is currently housed at the MinDA office.  Last year, MinDA, DOE, DENR, NCIP, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Agrarian Reform and the National Water Resources Board entered into an agreement for the implementation of the OSFMC.  The MPCMC on the other hand was created in July 2012 through Executive Order 81, as a committee tasked to coordinate the efforts of the national, regional, and local governments and power industry stakeholders to improve Mindanao’s power industry.  MinDA and DOE co-chair the MPMC composed of the Energy Regulatory Commission, the National Electrification Administration, the National Power Corporation, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation, the Mindano Electric Power Alliance, the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives, National Transmission Corporation and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).  Currently, there are 290 pending RE power project applications in Mindanao with a potential combined capacity of 2,998.09 megawatts (MW).  Out of the total power project applications are 242 hydropower projects with a combined potential capacity of 2,147.71 MW.  Also in the pipeline are 28 solar energy projects with a combined capacity of 114.65 MW, and eight geothermal energy power projects with a combined potential capacity of 278.48 MW.  “Once these projects are completed and started generating power, we can expect a more diversifies and balanced energy mix in Mindanao in the coming years,” Montenegro said. ---”

After reading this media statement from the Mindanao Development Agency (MinDA), we all could imagine a circuitous process and complex web of agencies and people possible investors will have to deal with to pursue an energy initiative in Mindanao.  I lost count of the agencies concerned because they were plain too many.  One could just imagine talking individually to one thousand people, getting and begging for one hundred signatures, and meeting with ten agencies in the next ten years.  This is not going to work!

There has to be a simple, short and more efficient way of getting things done.  Narrowing down the bureaucracy to a handful of people to talk to and a few steps to follow will be the ideal protocol… perhaps, along the concept of a “one stop shop”.  I appreciate the concerns of MinDA but this is not just the way to bring the timely and much-needed renewable energy for Mindanao.

Thoughts to promote positive action…

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REFERENCE:, (2015).  “Agencies Commit to Hasten Renewable Energy Projects in Mindanao”.  Retrieved on September 15, 2015 from

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