Fully implement EPIRA to give Filipinos ‘power to choose,’ says Gatchalian

Jee Y. Geronimo
With the full implementation of EPIRA, an 'environmentally-conscious' consumer can choose to patronize factories that store renewable energy, instead of those that store coal, says Senator Sherwin Gatchalian

MANILA, Philippines – The chairman of the Senate committee on energy said on Thursday, October 12, that the full implementation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) will give Filipinos the “power to choose” the form of energy they want to use.

May isang bagay po tayo na hindi natin ma-exercise ‘yung power to choose, especially ‘pag dumadating ito buwan-buwan: kuryente,” Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said during a renewable energy forum on Thursday.

(We cannot exercise our power to choose over one thing, especially when we get it every month: electricity.)

He continued: “Dahil hindi natin mapili ‘yun, ang nangyayari, kung anong dumating na bill sa atin, ‘yun na ‘yung binabayaran natin. Hindi rin natin ma-compare kung mahal ‘yun, o hindi mahal.”

(Because you can’t choose it, what happens is, we pay the electricity bill we get, no matter how much it is. We also can’t compare if it’s expensive or not.)

According to Gatchalian, the 2001 EPIRA law gives consumers the power to choose but the problem is that it hasn’t been fully implemented yet.

Kung mangyayari po na mai-implement lahat po ng provisions ng EPIRA, makakapili na tayo ng ating generator, so ibig sabihin kunwari ako ang consumer, puwede na po akong pumili kung saan ko bibilhin kuryente ko at puwede kong piliin anong klaseng kuryente,” he explained.

(Once we implement all the provisions of the EPIRA, we can already choose the generator we want, so that means if I’m a consumer, I can already choose where to purchase my electricity and I can choose the kind of energy.)

The EPIRA mandates government to promote the utilization of indigenous, new, and renewable energy resources in power generation to reduce dependence on imported energy. Renewable energy resources in the law refer to biomass, solar, wind, hydro, and ocean energy, among others.

Gatchalian on Thursday said that with the full implementation of EPIRA, an “environmentally-conscious” consumer can choose to purchase from factories that store renewable energy, instead of those that store coal.

The senator was in Germany in April for an orientation visit to discuss the country’s transition to renewable energy supply. He said if there’s one thing that he learned there, it is that the power to choose and the democratization of energy is with consumers.

“Again, we have the framework, we have the law already, and one thing that we’re making sure in the Senate is we implement all the provisions of the law to give the consumers the power to choose,” he added.

He went on to discuss best practices to consider, such as solar rooftop technologies, peer-to-peer real-time electricity trading, and island microgrids.

Thursday’s renewable energy forum was part of Galing Pook Foundation’s two-day “Festival of Best Practices.” Culminating the activity is the 2017 Galing Pook Awarding Ceremonies, where 10 local government units will be recognized for their innovative practices in local governance. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.