By: Cristina Andrea N. Rioflorido, Apprentice
Prospective power suppliers can expect faster processing of their applications for permits and certifications. Congress enacted Republic Act No. 11234 otherwise known as the “Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop Act,” (the “EVOSS Act” or the “Law”), which became effective on April 29, 2019.
This law creates and establishes the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop or the EVOSS, an online system that allows the coordinated submission and synchronized processing of all required data and information using a single decision-making portal for actions on applications for new power generation, transmission, or distribution projects.
EVOSS Act also covers all new power generation, transmission, and distribution projects throughout the country and all departments, bureaus, offices, agencies, GOCCs, LGUs, and other entities involved in the permitting process of power generation, transmission, or distribution projects.
Through the paperless system of the EVOSS, prospective developers may obtain the list of all electronic documentary requirements for their application. They may also prepare, submit, process, receive updates and monitor the status of ongoing applications. Likewise, they may pay all their fees through the EVOSS. Lastly, they may submit any complaints they have about their applications through the online paperless system.
The EVOSS also provides a system for government agencies involved in the permitting process to interoperate with respect to the permitting process, templates for the documentary requirements, processing periods, updating and monitoring of documentary requirements, and other aspects of the processing system.
The EVOSS will be managed and maintained by the Department of Energy (DOE). It is tasked to determine if the electronic documents submitted to the system are valid and enforceable, utilize an online payment system of fees, provide a secure and accessible paperless processing system for users of the system. It serves as the virtual storage and rules driven system of the government entities involved in the permitting process. It is also tasked to utilize the main technology platform and operations management software platform for these government entities.
The operations of the EVOSS will be determined and monitored by the EVOSS Steering Committee (the Committee). The Committee shall exist only for a period of 2 years from the effectivity of this Act. It shall be composed of the Office of the President as Chairperson, the Secretary of the DOE as Vice-Chairperson, and the following as members:
- Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA)
- Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)
- Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
- Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)
- Secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)
- Chairperson of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC)
- Chairperson of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)
- Executive Director of the National Water Resources Board (NWRB)
- Chairperson or head of the market operator; Chairperson or head of the system operator
- 1 representative each from the power generation, transmission, and distribution sectors and end users
- To be nominated by the sector concerned and chosen by the DOE
- Non-voting members of the Committee
Doing Things Now
To further speed up the process, all government agencies involved will be required to follow a strict timeframe to act on pending applications. The timeframes provided in the law are as follows:
|DOE||60 calendar days|
|DAR||75 calendar days|
|DA||60 calendar days|
|DENR||120 calendar days|
|ERC||60 calendar days
270 calendar days (quasi-judicial cases)
|System operator||150 calendar days|
|NWRB||60 calendar days|
|Market operator||15 calendar days|
|DOTr||30 calendar days|
|PNP||15 calendar days|
|DPWH||30 calendar days|
|PH Nuclear Research Institute||15 calendar days|
|All other agencies||15 calendar days|
|LGUs||15 calendar days|
|NCIP||10 calendar days|
The EVOSS Steering Committee, however, may impose shorter timeframes for applications filed with LGUs and the NCIP for efficiency and expediency. The failure of an agency to act within the prescribed timeframe will result in the automatic approval of said application and potential administrative sanctions against inefficient public officers to penalize the delay. On the other hand, private entities – the system operator and market operator – who fail to act within the prescribed timeframe will be slapped with a P100,000 fine per day of delay.
With the EVOSS Act in place, consumers should expect to get better service – and cheaper electricity rates – in the near future.
(Senior Partner Dicky Salazar and Partner Karl Castillo handle the Energy Law portfolio of the Firm.)