By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

EL NINO MITIGATION.  The Energy Regulatory Commission is encouraging households to use solar home systems to mitigate the impact of the dry spell. The ERC and the Department of Energy (DOE) said the use of solar home systems is one of the alternative solutions to reduce energy demand on the grid.  (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is promoting the use of solar home systems, as part of the efforts to mitigate the impact of El Niño that may aggravate during summer months.

ERC chairperson Monalisa Dimalanta said the process of securing permits for the residential installation of solar panels has been streamlined.

Dimalanta also noted that the ERC has partnered with local government units (LGUs) to establish a one-stop shop to make it easier for applicants to obtain a permit for a solar home system.

“Kasi po may permit iyan eh to put up solar home systems – pinapadali po namin ’yung permit, nagpa-partner po kami with the local governments para po mag-establish ng one-stop shop sa mga local government (There is a permit to put up solar home systems. We are facilitating this permit, we are partnering with the local governments to establish a one-stop shop in local governments),” she said.

Dimalanta said those who want to secure permits for the system do not need to go to the ERC office. Instead, the office will go to the local government so the agency could speed up the processing of the permits, she added.

The ERC and the Department of Energy (DOE) are promoting the use of solar home systems as one of the alternative solutions to reduce energy demand on the grid.

Dimalanta said the ERC is also partnering with Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) to provide financial aid to those who are interested in installing solar panels and to create programs to assist cooperatives for any energy problems that may arise during the dry season.

“For the summer months din po, last year na na-implement na namin ito together with Landbank, iyong tawag nating Anti-Bill Shock Protection Program (we also implemented last year, together with Landbank, what we call the Anti-Bill Shock Protection Program),” she said.

“‘Yun pong mga kooperatiba, puwede silang mangutang sa Landbank para po kapag tumaas ‘yung presyo ng kuryente, hindi muna nila sisingilin lahat sa mga consumers nila. ‘Yung Landbank po muna magpupuno noong kakulangan para mabayaran nila ‘yung mga generating plants (Cooperatives can borrow from the Landbank so that when the price of electricity increases, they don’t have to charge all of it to their consumers. The Landbank will first fill in the shortage so that they can pay for the generating plants).”

The ERC official also said the agency is eyeing a partnership with Pag-IBIG’s loan facility to encourage more households to have their own solar home systems.

Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. earlier said the effects of a “strong” El Niño will be felt until the first or second quarter of 2024.

At least 65 provinces, or 77 percent of the country’s provinces, are forecast to experience drought by the end of May, he added.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. earlier emphasized the importance of having a steady water and power supply during the El Niño phenomenon. (PNA)