THE country’s first-ever solar net-community was launched recently, a move seen to contribute to a more stable grid in Luzon.
The pioneering solar net-metered community features residential houses at Imperial Homes Corporation’s (IHC) Via Verde Trece Martires development in Cavite. These houses generate optimal solar energy and export excess electricity to the grid in exchange for net-metering credits.
Net-metering allows solar owners with less than 100 kWp (kilowatts peak) capacity to export their excess electricity to the grid in exchange for electricity bill credits.
According to Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chairperson Agnes Devanadera, who spearheaded the launch, during the initial implementation of the net-metering rules, the participation to the program was heavily skewed towards industrial and commercial businesses who can afford to install solar panels in their rooftops.
Taking advantage of the significant reduction in the cost of panels in the world market, Devanadera said the ERC timely included in the amended net-metering rules the simplified procedures for community housing developments’ participation, thereby allowing residential customers to access the program.
“This is indeed a landmark decision of the ERC, which gave rise to solar powered community housing such as this,” the ERC chair adds.
Devanadera said this pivotal occasion is a significant landmark since the energy industry has totally changed with the net-metering program, from the one-way flow of electricity to a two-way flow of electricity. “It empowers consumers to become ‘prosumers,’ with the ability to generate their own electricity for their own consumption, and as well as export any excess generation to the distribution grid,” the ERC chief states.
The 50,000-square meter Via Verde Trece Martires development is targeted for completion in 2025 and is expected to serve as a “model” for all affordable, resilient and sustainable projects in Cavite.
Imperial Homes chairperson and CEO Emma Imperial said that as a pioneering PropTech developer, they are more driven to integrate modern and efficient technologies into property developments to promote inclusive growth in their communities. “The net-metering system is another proof that real estate and renewable energy and green resilient building materials are potent partners in addressing the concerns of poverty alleviation, climate change and housing backlogs. None of this is possible without the leadership of ERC chairperson Devanadera.”
Devanadera also paid tribute to the significance of convergence among stakeholders such as property developers, local government units (LGUs), power utilities and other relevant organizations.
She added that the ERC would like to have this as a project model for ERC to point to and Imperial Homes will take on a teaching role because they will be sharing this, and that there are different agencies which enable programs like this and that is important. “ERC can just come up with rules but beyond that, we need the private sector to put life to what ERC and other government agencies are talking about. I’m really grateful that Trece Martires hosted this. The call really is for every city so that we can address the backlog in housing, for every city and province to at least have a model community for renewable energy,” Devanadera remarked, adding that it would be good to have a similar program in provinces working on net-metering communities.
Among the organizations present at the launch include International Finance Corporation (IFC), Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), Board of Investments (BOI), PropTech Consortium of the Philippines (PropTech), Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), Philippine Solar and Storage Energy Alliance (PSSEA), Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA), Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP), National Real Estate Association (NREA) and Meralco.
Aside from the Net-Metering Rules amendment, the ERC also helped push fast tracking of resolutions of verification cases of pass-through charges, empowering consumers through the expanded coverage of retail competition and rate mitigating measures, and transitioning to electronic processes amid the pandemic.