10 AUGUST 2011
Euro chamber hits renewable energy flip-flop
The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) yesterday assailed the Board of Investments (BOI) for calling for a slowdown in tapping renewable energy because of its higher costs.
The chamber said the government should not turn its back on the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 as this would deliver the wrong message to investors.
Henry Schumacher, vice president for external affairs of ECCP, said the group, along with the European National Chambers, is deeply concerned by the BOI’s "surprising" support for the opposition to renewable energy earlier expressed by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"Part of BOI’s mission should be to reassure investors. We previously invited investors for opportunities in renewable energies and today we ask for a postponement of the implementation of the Renewable Energy Act," Schumacher said.
Schumacher reminded BOI that most foreign investors look for consistency in government policies when assessing country risks.
"The Philippine government announced its policy towards the implementation of renewable energy projects. If the administration were to change the policy soon after that statement, it loses the trust from not only foreign investors in the power sector but also in other sectors. Lack of consistency will definitely make the Philippines less competitive," Schumacher said.
"We urge the national government neither to turn back on this sustainable path to economic development, nor to be distracted by the issue of rate impact to electricity consumers," Schumacher added.
The ECCP reiterated its full support for the implementation of the RE law, RA 9513, which it described as comprehensive.
RA 9513 offers tariff and non-tariff incentives to enable the country to develop water (mini-hydro), wind, solar, ocean and agricultural residues (biogas/biomass) as energy resources.
Schumacher said RE technologies minimize the exposure of the Philippines to international fuel price fluctuations and to energy shortages in general.
ECCP said through the RE Act, the Philippines effectively positioned itself as an emerging leader of Southeast Asia in the new field.
The group said with the law, private investors can scale up and replicate the country’s initial efforts in building a 25-megawatt wind farm in Ilocos Norte as well as the 1 MW solar power plant in Cagayan de Oro and the 180 KW solar rooftop in Batangas.
On the issue of costs, ECCP said it is necessary for the public to "invest money" to build the infrastructure for RE but that the costs would far outweigh the benefits over the long term.
The 2-centavo increase in power rates due to the entry of solar energy, for example, pales in comparison with the expected inflow of about P33.60 billion worth of investments should the proposed 269 MW capacity of solar power plants be installed, the ECCP said.
Based on the experience of European countries, ECCP said, the feed-in tariff mechanism has successfully increased deployment of renewables, created jobs and reduced carbon emissions.
"Let us not delay the implementation of the renewable energy law. Let us take advantage of the new technologies and learn from the experiences in many European countries," Schumacher said.
The European National Chambers is composed of the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the French Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Spanish Chamber of Commerce. Combined with the ECCP, they have more than 1,300 member companies operating in the country.
Read article source in Malaya Business Insight, August 10, 2011