Net metering cap eyed for removal to boost RE investment

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SENATOR Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who chairs the chamber’s energy committee, has filed a bill seeking to remove the 100-kilowatt (kW) ceiling on generation facilities which can participate in the net metering program, in a bid to encourage more investment in renewable energy (RE).

Net metering is authorized by the RE Act of 2008, allowing participants with their own RE facilities to feed power back onto the grid and have their contributions to the common pool of power be deducted from their consumption, such that their consumption is said to have been metered on a net basis.

Senate Bill No. 2219, which Mr. Gatchalian filed last month, said removing the cap will allow more end-users to participate in net metering.

In a separate statement Monday, Mr. Gatchalian also said more establishments, industrial buildings, and government offices will be able to join the program with caps removed, thereby encouraging investment in facilities like solar rooftops.

“Rooftops are as good as real estate because you can install panels there and generate revenue… But because of the limits of the law, this cannot be achieved,” Mr. Gatchalian said.

According to a reference guide on the RE law published in 2013, a 100-kW capacity limit was imposed because the law defined net metering as a “system appropriate for small generation entities which do not exceed 100 kW in capacity, each.”

Asked to comment, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it backed the goal of opening up the program to more participants.

“We support the objective of the bill as it seeks to allow more end users to participate in the program,” ERC Commissioner-in-Charge Floresinda G. Baldo-Digal told BusinessWorld Monday.

Former National Renewable Energy Board Chairperson Monalisa C. Dimalanta said that she was “generally supportive” of the measure.

“(The removal of the cap) allows large customers to also explore RE to augment their own supply, self-providing in instances when the grid supply is not available. There is space on rooftops of economic zone locators that can immediately be made available not only if the cap is removed but also if permitting becomes easier to navigate,” she told BusinessWorld Monday.

“All in all, it promotes greater empowerment for our consumers,” she added. — Angelica Y. Yang

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