The Department of Energy (DOE) recently released the Invitation to Bid for the conduct of a Competitive Selection Process (CSP) for Microgrid Service Provider (MGSP) for the electrification of initial ninety-eight (98) identified unserved and underserved areas of the country.
The initial 98 identified areas have a total of 15,645 households, or equivalent to around 39 percent of the total households in the unserved and underserved areas that may be viable for microgrid systems due to their number, household density, and demand in the said areas.
Republic Act (RA) No. 11646, or the Microgrid Systems Act of 2022, mandates the conduct of a CSP before an MGSP can serve off-grid areas. It likewise provided a 90-day timeline to complete the conduct of CSP from the pre-qualification until the submission to the Energy Regulatory Commission of the awarded contract.
"In line with said timeline and requirements, the bidding processes for the initial 98 identified unserved and underserved areas for MGSP will be included in this year's MGSP-CSP," Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara said.
Based on the recently released 2023-2032 National Total Electrification Roadmap (NTER), the DOE, in consultation with the National Electrification Administration (NEA), National Power Corporation (NPC), and concerned distribution utilities (DUs), has initially identified 407 areas of which 285 are unserved comprising of 20,103 households while 122 are underserved with a total of around 20,207 households. These far-flung or remote areas have the presence of economic activities that require the much-needed electricity services.
The DOE prioritized the 98 areas after complete evaluation in coordination with concerned DUs, NPC, and NEA. Clustered as 49 lots, these areas may be viable for MGSP given the higher demand, and the households are not widely dispersed.
The other unserved and underserved areas which were not considered in this initial round of CSP were identified to have either low demand and/or with limited number and dispersed households and may be more costly or technically difficult to electrify using a microgrid system. In such cases, standalone systems, such as PV Solar Home Systems, could be the most appropriate and optimal solution.
"We are committed to working closely with the relevant agencies to ensure that the CSP proceeds as smoothly as possible. Our primary goal is to expedite the delivery of reliable and sustainable electricity services in all areas not only through microgrid systems but other appropriate solutions depending on the area's characteristics," Undersecretary Guevara said.
The DOE will conduct further consultation with the DUs and other instrumentalities to update the NTER as well as further validate the other unserved and underserved areas for possible second round of bidding while those areas that are still unviable will be proposed for funding through the different programs of the NEA, the Total Electrification Project of the DOE, or the Energy Regulations No. 1-94. To fast-track these alternative solutions, the DOE also considers partnerships with other qualified project implementers, such as state universities and non-governmental organizations. ###