Technical Planning Workshop for Rural Electrification Component ASEP Phase 2

Background

Rural electrification is one of two technical thematic areas under ASEP-TA, the other being energy efficiency

The categories of TA undertaken are policy and strategy studies, development of planning tools and methodologies and selected technical studies. For rural electrification, the main goal is to support the Government’s program on the energization of offgrid areas with innovative decentralized technical solutions, new business models and policies and regulations that maximize the role of the private sector. An overarching goal of the ASEP-TA Component is to build capacity of energy staff in these key technical areas by selected trainings locally and abroad, and through working with ASEP-TA experts on the various technical activities.

The first phase of ASEP was implemented starting September 2016 and ended September 2019. ASEP was extended for a second phase starting October 2019 when preparations for a new work program commenced. On 17 January 2020, the Rural Electrification component of ASEP outlined its planned work program that culminates in Sept 2021.

Proceedings

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and obtain reactions on the plan from its main client agency, the Department of Energy, as well as National Power Corporation, National Electrification Administration, Energy Regulatory Commission and the UNDP- Development of a Renewable Energy Applications Mainstreaming and Market Sustainability (DREAMS) project. The workshop was held at F1 Hotel in BGC.

Ileana Miritescu, EUD program manager, opened the workshop by stressing that the EU considers the energy sector as a key driver for inclusive growth, and that the plans being discussed at the workshop is part of a 60 million EUR grant by the EU to the Philippine Government in 2016.

Atty. Monalisa Dimalanta, the New NREB Chairman, outlined the Government’s framework for achieving universal access to energy and the drive towards increasing the share of renewable energy in the country’s energy mix.

Atty. Dimalanta praised ASEP’s work on providing livelihood opportunities to households in offgrid areas to complement basic electrification.

Dr. Ernesto Terrado, Key Expert for rural electrification, discussed ASEP’s work program and timetable up to Sept 2021, explaining that the plan being presented has been extensively revised from an earlier version, after incorporating substantive comment and suggestions from DOE. He stressed the challenge of developing a meaningful program with resources that are significantly reduced compared to levels provided for ASEP’s previous phase.

The workshop discussed the 3 major activities to be implemented by ASEP in2020. The first, assistance to DOE in formulating a strategy for rationalizing Government subsidies for electrification of missionary areas, was discussed by DOE Assistant Director Irma C. Exconde and Dr. Laarni Escresa of the University of the Philippines Economics Faculty. Director Exconde explained the challenge to DOE of trying to push subsidy removal at the same time as the mandate for 100% electrification, including remote, offgrid areas is implemented. Dr. Laarni meanwhile explained the economic framework for setting subsidies and the need to ensure targeting and efficiency in any rationalization plan.

The second activity, ASEP support to DOE in its IEC program for generators and distribution utilities through 3 regional training events in 2020, was discussed by REMB Director Mylene Capongcol and Gonzalo Gaspar. ASEP would also provide the service of German experts for training in the use of the ASEP Simplified Planning Tool, a software for optimizing the contribution of renewable energy in the electricity supply system.

The final activity discussed was ASEP’s planned implementation of a 4th project on Productive Use of Renewable Energy (PURE). Lourdes Arciaga of DOE-Visayas explained the process employed to select a site in Negros Occidental. Possible applications being considered include pot harvest equipment for coffee and pineapple leaves that would increase income of the community. Ces Rodrigues, ASEP expert in community communications, explained the purpose of ASEP’s PURE initiative and briefly reviewed the 3 previous PURE projects already completed in Davao and Pangasinan.

Recap

In his recap of the workshop, Dr. Terrado said that the formal and informal comments received during the meeting will be used by ASEP to refine the work program and improve details of the implementation plan.

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