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Dept. of Energy: Moratorium on New Coal Power Plants
by Marcelle P. Villegas - January 12, 2021
Image: The GNPower Mariveles coal-fired power plant in the Philippines. Photo: courtesy of Aboitiz Power Corporation.
A moratorium on the endorsements of greenfield coal power plants was issued by the Department of Energy (DoE). This announcement was made while allowing foreign investors to now have full ownership of geothermal plant projects in the Philippines. DoE’s decision to stop the endorsements of coal power plants is the result of an assessment that showed the importance of focusing on a “more flexible” power supply mix.
According to Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi while at a virtual conference with world leaders held in Singapore, “This would help build a more sustainable power system that will be resilient in the face of structural changes in demand and will be flexible enough to accommodate the entry of new, cleaner and indigenous technological innovations.”
DoE is currently updating their Philippine Energy Plan for the next 20 years. Mr Cusi mentioned that DoE is committed to accelerating the development of the Philippines’ resources while “pushing for the transition from fossil fuel-based technology utilization to cleaner energy sources to ensure more sustainable growth for the country.” 
According to Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella of DoE, the ban on endorsing new coal-fired power plants will not affect those power plants that have received endorsements in the past. He said, “We need to prepare for the influx of RE (renewable energy) under the recent policies issued by the DoE. Hence, the need for more flexibility.” 
On note, 3,436 MV of committed coal-fired power projects in Luzon are ongoing as of August 2020. This includes the Meralco Powergen Corporation and GNPower Dinginin Ltd. Co. which is a joing venture of the Ayala and Aboitiz groups. Additionally, a 135 MW coal-run power projects in Visayas and 420 MV in Mindanao have been endorsed by DoE. Overall, there are around 10,000 MV indicative coal-fired power plant projects in the Philippines which may receive government endorsements. Mr Fuentebella said these will need to be sorted out. The ban will continue until the country will require additional baseload power, according to DoE official. 
In relation to the ban, Center of Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) pointed out that there are still environmental concerns about the existing coal-run power plants in the Philippines. CEED Director Gerard C. Arances said, “That is still concerning and alarming vis-à-vis pollution, climate imperative, and costly electricity in the country.”
Another important announcement made by DoE is the upcoming open bidding round of renewable energy service contracts that will now allow foreign companies to own large-scale geothermal projects. This includes exploration, development and utilization. Last 20 October 2020, DoE released a circular providing the guidelines for the third Open and Competitive Selection Process (OCSP3) in the awarding of renewable project contracts.
Cusi said, “From an investment perspective, OCSP3 allows for 100% foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal exploration, development and utilization projects.”
DoE clarified that big geothermal projects are those with an initial investment cost of about $50 million and are under Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements, signed and approved by the Philippine President.
 Ang, Adam J. (27 October 2020). Business World. “DoE bans new coal-run power plants”.
Retrieved from - https://www.bworldonline.com/doe-bans-new-coal-run-power-plants/
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Marcelle P. Villegas - December 16, 2020
Test runs at max speed and other development for MRT-3
By Marcelle P. Villegas The newly overhauled MRT-3 train was tested by running it at a maximum speed of 50 kph. Here is a view from the driver’s compartment on MRT-3 during test run last 29 October 2020. (Screenshot from Department of Transportation video) MRT-3 or the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 conducted test runs on its first newly overhauled train. The train was tested to run at a maximum speed of 50 kph. According to Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran, the train is composed of three cars which was overhauled by Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The company is the maintenance provider of MRT-3. The test run was documented in a video blog of DOTr. Libiran said, “As part of the massive rehab and maintenance of Sumitomo from Japan, we can now overhaul train cars that have been long neglected and now, we are repairing them under the Duterte administration.” According to MRT-3 Director for Operations Michael Capati, aside from the three newly overhauled train cars, the MRT-3 also plans to overhaul the remaining 72 cars by July 2021. “In the past years, our trains broke down plenty of times. Now, one of the things Sumitomo is doing is to rehabilitate and do a general overhaul of our trains.” Capati mentioned that the MRT-3 management wants its trains to run at 50 kph by November 2020.  He said, “We have already increased our train operating speed to 30 kph to 40 kph in October. Now we are using this train to simulate a 50 kph operating speed, which we are hoping to implement by November.” Capati noted that the improved train speed was made possible by the overhaul of train cars and the rail replacements that were completed last September. He also said that MRT-3 increased the number of its trains running daily to a maximum of 22. “Our maintenance program is doing well and at the same time, this is the effect of our rail replacements.” MRT-3 tested the train operating speed at 40 kph last September. This reduces the average waiting time of passengers from nine minutes to seven minutes. Reference:  Dela Cruz, Raymond Carl (29 October 2020). Philippine News Agency. “MRT-3 conducts test runs on overhauled train at 50 kph”. Article and photo credit retrieved from - https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1120153
Marcelle P. Villegas - December 14, 2020
Right-of-way ordinance for Makati Intra-City Subway project
By Marcelle P. Villegas Last 21 October 2020, Makati City government passed and approved an ordinance authorizing the acquisition of right of way covering the underground portions of nine roads that are affected by Makati City government’s subway project. As per Ordinance No. 2020-204, the roads that will be affected by the project are: Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, South Avenue, J.P. Rizal Avenue, J.P. Rizal Extension, Pablo Ocampo St. Extension (Vito Cruz Extension), Kalayaan Avenue, EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue), C-5 Road (a.k.a. Carlos P. Garcia Avenue), and San Guillermo Avenue. The city ordinance mentions of subsurface right of way need to be acquired for the “staging, construction, operation, maintenance and development of the Makati Subway Project.” The nine roads mentioned above are in the road and bridge inventory of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Therefore, they fall under the jurisdiction of the department. “Considering the importance of acquiring the easement of the right of way of the subject roads for the benefit of the citizens of Makati, the City Government of Makati is constrained to acquire, through voluntary agreement or expropriation proceedings, an easement of right of way of the subject roads.”  Section 19 of the Republic Act No. 7160 or Local Government Code of 1991 stated the authorizing of expropriations if needed. The City of Makati has entered into negotiations with and made a “valid and definite offer” to the DPWH for the acquisition of right of way. Philippine Infradev is building a subway that is worth $3.5 billion that shall traverse the central business district of Makati City. There will be 10 stations across the 10-kilometer line. Last September, Philippine Infradev signed a $1.21-billion contract that covers engineering, procurement and construction with China Construction Second Engineering Bureau Co. Ltd. For the subway project. The subway project is expected to accommodate 700,000 passengers daily in order to reduce the traffic congestion in the city. They are targeting the subway’s completion in 2025.  About the Makati Subway Project The Makati Intra-city Subway is a planned underground rapid transit line in the City of Makati that spans out to 11 kilometers or 6.8 miles. This is designed to link establishments across Makati’s business district. The project is a partnership between the Makati City Government and a private consortium led by Philippine Infradev Holdings. The subway line’s stations will be connecting the existing Line 3 (Guadalupe Station), the Pasig River Ferry Service, and the approved Line 9 (Metro Manila Subway). It was on 12 December 2018 when the preparatory work was commenced. On the same day, ceremonial drilling took place in front of the Makati City Hall. The Makati City Hall is near the site of one of the proposed stations of the subway. On this day, the signing of the memorandum of understanding also took place. The memorandum was signed by Makati City Government and a consortium consisting of Philippine Infradev and Chinese firms Greenland Holdings Group, Jiangsu Provincial Construction Group Company Ltd., Holdings Ltd. and China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. Soil testing and feasibility studies of the proposed locations for the subway line’s stations were done as part of the preparatory work. By June 2019, 8 out of the 10 proposed stations have been finalized. The two proposed stations along Ayala Avenue are yet to be finalized due to “non-response” from its owners. The proponents said that they may divert the subway towards PNR Buendia Station or the Mile Long property in Legaspi Village instead. For now, the first station will be located at the Makati Central Fire Station. The fire station will be demolished. From there, the line goes towards a Lucia Tan owned property near Circuit Makati and Makati City Hall. The remaining stations will be located near Rockwell Center, Makati Bliss Housing in Guadalupe, Century City, University of Makati, Cembo and the final station will be near Ospital ng Makati. In July 2019, soil testing related with the subway project was completed. Philippine Infradev and the Makati City Government signed a joint venture agreement for the subway project. By October 2019, the plan to move the terminus of the line to the Mile Long property has been finalized. The area is being redeveloped by the national government along Amorsolo Street. The soil test results were favourable and the route diversion meant that the cost of the project might be reduced to as low as $2.5 billion. Moreover, a joint venture with Megaworld Corp. was made to build a common station in Guadalupe for the subway system and for the planned SkyTrain. Based on a disclosure to the stock exchange, the Philippine Infradev’s subsidiary, Makati City Subway Inc. (MCSI) received the term sheet from Megaworld Corp. This joint venture will build access to the Line 3 Guadalupe Station and the Pasig River Ferry. Philippine Infradev has an agreement with China Construction First Group Corp. Ltd. (CCFG) to build a transit-oriented development. Based on this agreement, CCFG is responsible for the construction, materials, manpower, equipment and other requirements to complete the project. The construction is expected to last for 42 months.  References:  Balinbin, Arjay L (25 October 2020). Business World. “Makati passes right-of-way ordinance for subway project”. Retrieved from - https://www.bworldonline.com/makati-passes-right-of-way-ordinance-for-subway-project/  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makati_Intra-city_Subway (Photo credit: IRC Properties Inc.)
Marcelle P. Villegas - December 14, 2020
PH National Green Building Day – Sept. 8
By Marcelle P. Villegas President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Proclamation 1030 last 21 October 2020 declaring September 8 of every year as the “National Green Building Day”. This is a step to strengthen the promotion and establishment of energy-efficient and green buildings in the Philippines. Malacañang Palace released a copy of the proclamation last October 28.  The proclamation was signed to recognise the need to provide opportunities to encourage cooperation between the public and private sectors in advancing the government’s commitment in protecting the environment.  The proclamation read, “The Department of Public Works and Highways, in coordination with relevant non-government organizations and civil society groups, shall promote the observance of the National Green Building Day and identify the programs, projects, and activities for the yearly celebration thereof.” In addition, all other agencies and instrumentalities of the national government, including government-owned or controlled corporations and state universities and colleges, all local government units, and private sector were encouraged to support the DPWH in celebrating and implementing the National Green Building Day. “It is imperative to intensify existing initiatives to promote and raise awareness on the efficient and equitable use of resources, proper water and waste management, and integration of eco-friendly processes and systems, among others,” it read on the proclamation.  On the Sec. 16, Article II of the Constitution, it is written that the State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature. DPWH adopted the Philippine Green Building Code (GB) through the passage of National Building Code Development Office Memorandum Circular 1. The memorandum defines the framework of standards that are intended to lower the carbon emissions from buildings and to promote the health and well-being of the people in the building. The GB Code is a set of regulations setting minimum standards for compliance. It is, however, not to be used as a guide to rate buildings. Based on the GB Code, buildings are subject to the performance standards of energy efficiency, water efficiency, material sustainability, solid waste management, site sustainability, and indoor environment quality. “Green building is the practice of adopting measures that promote resource management efficiency and site sustainability while minimizing the negative impact of buildings on human health and the environment. This practice complements the conventional building design concerns of economy, durability, serviceability and comfort.”  References:  Esguerra, Darryl John (28 October 2020). Philippine Daily Inquirer. “Palace declares Sept. 8 National Green Building Day”. Retrieved from - https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1353440/palace-declares-sept-8-national-green-building-day  Parrocha, Azer (28 October 2020). Philippine News Agency. “Duterte declares Sept. 8 as National Green Building Day”. Retrieved from - https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1119942 Photo credit: https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1119942
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Philippine Resources - September 27, 2022
PH-EITI holds first meeting under Marcos admin, approves plan to improve multi-stakeholder engagement in the extractives
Photo credit: PH-EITI The Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI) convened its first Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) meeting under the Marcos administration on Friday (September 16), two weeks after the country reaffirmed its commitment to implement the EITI. EITI is the global standard for transparency and accountability in the oil, gas, and mining sectors. The MSG – the body that governs EITI implementation in the country – is chaired by the Department of Finance (DOF) and composed of representatives from government, industry, and civil society. The government began implementing the EITI in 2013 pursuant to Section 14 of Executive Order No. 79, s. 2012 and Executive Order No. 147, s. 2013 that created the PH-EITI. “This meeting demonstrates the government’s continuing commitment to improve transparency and accountability in the extractive industries,” said Finance Undersecretary and PH-EITI Focal Person and Chair Cielo Magno. To improve resource governance, the MSG agreed to strengthen spaces for multi-stakeholder participation and advocate for more spaces along the extractive industry value chain. The group also agreed to include an MSG report on the status of civic engagement in the annual country report. The MSG also discussed remaining initiatives for 2022, including the production of the FY 2021 PH-EITI Country Report, the 2022 National Conference, and a planned visit of EITI Chair and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark to the Philippines in November 2022. The PH-EITI publishes independently reconciled data on oil, gas, coal, and mineral resources through an annual and comprehensive country report. To date, the PH-EITI has produced seven country reports, reconciling over P362.5 billion in government revenues from extractive projects from 2012 to 2019. Aside from disclosing extractives data to inform research and policy recommendations, the PH-EITI also provides space for multi-stakeholder participation in resource governance. Article courtesy of the Department of Finance
Philippine Resources - September 27, 2022
Marcos admin commits to transparency and good governance in the extractive industries
Photo credit: EITI / CC BY-SA The Marcos administration demonstrated its commitment to pursue transparency in natural resource governance by rejoining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and enabling the continued development of the mining sector. In a letter to EITI Chair and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno cited the value of good governance and anti-corruption measures in maximizing the extractive sector’s contribution to resource mobilization and sustainable economic growth. EITI will complement the administration’s agenda on transparency and accountability. “We welcome the opportunity to re-engage in EITI. We also commend the progress of the EITI Board in reviewing the validation standard and making it more relevant to implementing countries. We believe that EITI is an important tool for resource-rich countries like the Philippines to improve transparency and increase accountability in the management and governance of the extractive industries,” said Secretary Diokno. Secretary Diokno said that other government agencies, as well as industry and civil society stakeholders who have been actively implementing EITI in the country, are supportive of the move to rejoin the global initiative. On June 20, 2022, the Philippines through the Department of Finance (DOF) withdrew its participation in the EITI over concerns on metrics and procedures used for assessing country compliance with the international organization’s transparency requirements. In an August 23, 2022 letter, EITI Chair Helen Clark invited Secretary Diokno to re-state the country’s commitment to the EITI on behalf of the Marcos administration and build on the progress that the Philippines has achieved in the past nine years. The PH-EITI multi-stakeholder group is chaired by the DOF and is composed of representatives from government, industry, and civil society. The government began implementing the EITI in 2013 pursuant to Section 14 of Executive Order No. 79, s. 2012 and Executive Order No. 147, s. 2013 that created the Philippine EITI (PH-EITI). Annual disclosure of contracts, financial, economic, social and environmental data is mandatory for extractive industries pursuant to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-07. To date, the PH-EITI has produced seven country reports, covering data from mining, oil, gas, and coal industries and reconciling over P362.5 billion in government revenues from extractive projects from 2012 to 2019. In 2017, the Philippines was recognized by the EITI as the first among 50 plus countries in the world to have fully complied with the 2016 EITI Standard. The EITI updates its standard every three years and subjects member countries to validation to ascertain their compliance. Secretary Diokno said that the Marcos administration is committed to engage and unite various stakeholders in pursuing good governance and policy reforms in the country. “Rest assured that we remain committed to pursuing good governance in the extractive sector,” said Secretary Diokno. Article courtesy of the Department of Finance
Philippine Resources - September 26, 2022
Metro Manila Subway project nominated for int’l digital awards
Artist rendering of the Metro Manila Subway (Photo courtesy of DOTr) The Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) has been named as one of the finalists at the 2022 Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure for the best use of infrastructure software to save both time and money. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the general consultant for the MMSP Phase 1, the Japanese consortium Oriental Consultants Global (OC Global), developed a common digital engineering system and a “single source of truth” using ProjectWise and ComplyPro -- both programs by Bentley Software Inc. The MMSP, the DOTr said, presented communication and coordination challenges that other software programs failed to address. “The project team at OC Global realized that the implementation of collaborative BIM workflows, proactive risk management, and cost monitoring would require a connected data environment to be established,” it said. The system developed by OC Global for the MMSP enabled real-time data sharing that optimized collaboration -- saving an estimated 5,000 resource hours within the project’s first six months. “Combined with SYNCHRO for construction simulation, Bentley’s integrated technology solution identified and resolved 50 clashes, eliminating rework, shortening the project schedule, and saving costs. The successful BIM (Building Information Modeling) implementation has already achieved a return of investment of over USD600,000,” it said. The Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure is an annual event meant to honor Bentley software users for advancing infrastructure design, construction, and operations worldwide. The event’s finalists are deemed to demonstrate “excellence and digital advancements” in their respective award categories. The award winners will be announced during the program’s main event in London on Nov. 15. By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
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