ERC: Net metering scheme attracts 7,583 local users

Nine years after the net metering scheme was implemented, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it recorded 7,583 qualified end-users that signed up for the program at the end of 2022.

“Since the implementation of the Net-Metering Program in 2013, there are only 7,583 qualified end-users under the Net-Metering Program with 6,120 customers in Luzon, 1,168 in Visayas and 295 in Mindanao.

While the program highly demonstrates potential savings in electricity cost and protection from bill shocks, actual data shows the need for more aggressive efforts to promote and implement the program in many parts of the country,” the ERC said Tuesday. The net metering program enables an ordinary electricity consumer to become a “prosumer” by installing a maximum of 100 kilowatts of solar facility. It is the first non-fiscal incentive mechanism fully implemented under the Renewable Energy (RE) Act of 2008.

As a “prosumer,” the consumer can partly provide for its own electricity requirements by generating electricity from RE installations. Any excess electricity generated can then be sold to the distribution grid for which the consumer derives rebates in its power bill. Through the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels up to 100 kW, house owners and commercial establishments can enroll in the program with their respective distribution utility to realize savings while providing in part for their own consumption.

With the government itself leading the way in this initiative, the ERC said it is confident that there will be a “significant” increase in the net metering program. It said it will continue to encourage more end-users to register by conducting more information campaign.

For instance, it cited the Commission on Audit (COA) as the national agency champion for the net metering program in a ceremonial awarding of the Certificate of Compliance as Qualified End-User (COC-QE) last January 16.

COA has generated over P800,000 in electricity savings since it switched to renewable energy (RE).

“The COA in partnership with the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) Renewables Corporation installed the rooftop panels in 2017 to show support to the renewable energy drive of the government and to utilize alternative source of electricity at least cost.

Five  years after the installation of the solar panels, we are seeing the benefits in the savings generated. For January to September 2022 alone, we have generated total savings of more than P800,000 for both buildings. We hope that more agencies will see the benefits and be encouraged to follow in our footsteps,” COA Chairperson Gamaliel A. Cordoba said during the awarding ceremonies.

As one key government agency that has registered for the net-metering program, the COA’s initiatives are aligned with the government’s thrust of promoting RE. “Why should we allow ourselves to be exposed to the vulnerabilities of higher fuel cost when we can generate power from our own resources?

This was the resounding argument nearly 15 years ago, when the then Renewable Energy Bill was being deliberated in Congress.  Those arguments still ring true, and more so now.  Net-metering empowers consumers to become ‘prosumers,’ giving consumers the option to produce electricity for their own use and selling their excess to the grid, paving the way for the democratization of the grid,” said ERC Commissioner Catherine P. Maceda.

Currently, government offices are not yet mandated to adopt net metering. With the positive experience of agency champions, such as the COA and other local government units, the direct benefits derived from this program as well as protection against rising electricity prices were highlighted by ERC Chairperson Monalisa Dimalanta and Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla in a meeting with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in November 2022.

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