CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The House Committee on Energy is continuing to find ways to ensure adequate and affordable power and fuel in the country.
Chaired by Pampanga 2nd District Representative Juan Miguel “Mikey” Macapagal Arroyo, the committee has tackled and approved several important pieces of legislation that will further develop, upgrade and modernize the local energy sector.
Arroyo said his committee has proposed amendments to Republic Act No. 8479 or the “Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998”, which will help further improve the local industry and economy.
RA 8479 removed government control on the pricing of petroleum products allowing market forces to dictate oil prices.
The Committee on Energy is one of the largest in the House of Representatives, as it has 65 members including a chairperson (Arroyo) and nine vice chairpersons. The committee has general and exclusive jurisdiction over all matters relating to the exploration, development, exploitation, utilization or conservation of energy resources; entities involved in power generation, transmission and distribution; and supply of all forms of energy and energy fuels.
Records from the committee showed that as of December 15, 2021, the committee conducted a total of 44 virtual meetings during the 18th Congress, including 14 technical working group meetings, seven pre-bicameral meetings and two bicameral conference committee meetings despite the limitations caused by the pandemic.
“A total of 15 committee reports were filed which are of national significance,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo, together with Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, also co-chaired the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC) meeting and briefing on the “power supply and demand outlook” last year to get an update on the status of implementation of several landmark laws such as Republic Act No. 11285 or Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act and RA 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act.
Arroyo said that during the 18th Congress, the committee identified eight priority legislative measures and nine laws to be subject of legislative oversight function of the committee.
The priority legislative measures include the creation of the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute; establishing the Regulatory Framework for the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Industry; Electric Vehicle Industry Development; Energy Advocacy Council Office; Use of Microgrid Systems; Waste-to-Energy Technology; Downstream Natural Gas Industry Development; and Strengthening the Energy Regulatory Commission.
Records from the chamber showed that in 2021 alone, 46 measures were referred to the committee, including 28 bills and 18 resolutions. The committee acted on 44 bills of national significance.
In the whole 18th Congress, a total of 187 measures, including 131 bills and 56 resolutions were referred to the committee.
Among the measures that the committee approved and became a law are RA 11552 which extends and enhances the implementation of the Lifeline Rate to make electricity more affordable for consumers who are living below the poverty line and RA 11571 which enhances the powers and functions of the Joint Congressional Energy Commission by removing the expiration period of the JCEC to allow regular review.
It also acted on RA 11572 which establishes the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute to promote the acquisition of knowledge or recent developments and scientific breakthroughs in the field of energy and RA 11592 which establishes the regulatory framework for the safe operations of the liquefied petroleum gas industry.
Meanwhile, the House ratified House Bill 8203 which promotes the use of Microgrid Systems to accelerate the total electrification of unserved and underserved areas nationwide. The measure is now awaiting the Presidential action.
HB 10213 which aims to develop the electric vehicle industry and establish a regulatory framework for the manufacture and use of electric vehicles advanced to the Bicameral Conference Committee.
HB 8202 which aims to mandate the proper installation of maintenance of overhead electric distribution, communication lines and structures by electric distributors, cable and telecommunication companies for public safety was approved by the House.
Under deliberation are several important measures such as the proposed amendments to the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act; installation of underground cables and wires; conversion of the National Electrification Administration to National Electrification Authority; government assistance to distribution utilities and electricity end-users as well as several resolutions to help electric cooperatives and consumers.
Arroyo said all of these measures were carefully studied, debated and acted upon by the House Committee on Energy with the Filipino consumers as the top consideration.