Category Archives: renewable energy

a different celebration

So I sit here, barely two hours before my birthday, typing away at my laptop, which was exactly the way I feared I would spend my birthday. A couple of weeks ago I was toying with the idea of celebrating it by stuffing my backpack and going off somewhere by myself, but obviously, nothing came out of that idea.  I wanted to do something major, see, to distract myself, because my birthdays have always been either appallingly uneventful or else heralded by bouts of merciless self-assessment, self-esteem plunge, panic attack, and severe depression, in that order.

This time, though, the past weeks have been so crazy that I didn’t really have time to sit down and have that merciless self-assessment and the whole ball of wax that goes with it.  Instead, I have been busy juggling several commitments and tasks, and, well, ahem, helping to pass a landmark legislation on environmental sustainability and energy security.

The House passed its version of the Renewable Energy Bill last June, the Senate passed its version early last week, and, sooner than expected, both chambers immediately convened the bicameral conference session needed to reconcile the two versions of the bill and prepare it for final approval.  Yesterday, the bicam panel finished its job in a three-hour meeting and today, the eve of my birthday, the House of Representatives and the Senate gave me the best birthday gift and finally approved the Renewable Energy Bill.   It just needs to be zipped over to Malacañang, wait for the President’s signature or just dilly-dally at her desk for thirty days, whichever comes first, and then, finally, the country will have its Renewable Energy Law, or, officially, “An Act Promoting the Development, Utilization and Commercialization of Renewable Energy Resources and for Other Purposes.”

Tidbit: the earliest form of the RE Bill, then called the Non-Conventional Energy Bill, was filed way back 1989.  It later on got called the New and Renewable Energy Bill, before subsequently settling into plain Renewable Energy Bill.

Today’s approval at the House and Senate were just formalities, though. The real high point was the day before at the Hotel Sofitel, when the bicameral meeting adjourned and we knew that all the hard work had finally paid off. Towards the last half of the meeting, as the legislators quickly went through the last of the provisions that did not need lengthy discussions, we in the Renewable Energy Coalition were looking at each other in excitement going, wow, they’re really going to end this today! It could have gone worse, see; some bicams need several meetings or go on until the wee hours. Evidently, in this case, there really was no need for much debate, the legislators just agreed that yes, we need to encourage renewable energy development, and hammered out a pretty generous package of incentives and market mechanisms. Continue reading

i was there

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy reading about the same piece of news over and over.

Inquirer.Net: Senate approves renewable energy bill on 3rd reading
ABS-CBN News: Senate OKs renewable energy bill
BusinessWorld: Renewable energy bill OK’d by Senate; bicam is next step
Manila Bulletin: Senate passes Renewable Energy bill
GMANews.TV: Senate approves clean energy bill, seen to cut oil dependence
The Manila Times: Senate approves Renewable Energy bill

Some people in the Senate gallery clapped, something that’s usually frowned upon during session. Nobody tried to shush them, I mean us 🙂

Image: A father-and-daughter who signed our support RE Bill board during our exhibit at Greenbelt a few months ago

House passes RE Bill!

With a vote of 192-yes, 3-no, and 0 abstentions, the House of Representatives approved the Renewable Energy Bill on third reading this afternoon, on the last day of the current session.

Over at the Senate, it was decided to continue deliberations on the bill when Congress resumes session in late July.

So now, the mission is clear: pester the Senate!

mixed feelings

At close to midnight yesterday, June 10 – that is, a couple of hours ago as I type this, the House of Representatives approved the Renewable Energy Bill on second reading. They’re targeting third reading approval by today, June 11. Yey, yey, yey! (Forgive me for not being more articulate. It’s half-past-one in the morning and I’ve just spent most of the day hanging out at Congress).

It was certainly the most action-packed Congress session I’ve ever witnessed. And no, it was not because of the RE Bill, but because of the bill on the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). It’s also a very frustrating time for the agrarian reform campaign, because the CARP expires June 10 and Congress hasn’t passed an extension yet, let alone a replacement/improved program. At some point, bedlam ensued at one side of the gallery, with the farmers’ groups suddenly erupting in protest, some jumping the gallery barriers in an attempt to penetrate the session floor. Session was hastily suspended while the gallery was cleared, but the farmers were clearly very emotional at that point and there was a lot of shouting and arguing for a few minutes. I watched the proceedings with mixed feelings; one part of me fearing that this would delay the RE Bill, another part realizing that the plight of the farmers is also a very valid and urgent concern. I’ve been feeling frustrated at the erratic progress of the RE Bill, but I cannot even begin to imagine the level of the farmers’ frustration.

Exhibit day yesterday and D-Day today

Scenes from yesterday’s opening of the three-day World Environment Day Exhibit at Greenbelt 3 Concierge Area, where the Renewable Energy Coalition is one of the exhibitors. I just have to say that our booth was the most fun, because of the give-away “Renewables Now!” toy pinwheels and and baller bands. The freedom board asking people to sign to show their support for renewables was also filled up in no time.

Trivia: Throughout the day I was idly hoping for a celebrity or two to walk by so we can snap their photo with a pinwheel or baller band or while signing the freedom board. No such thing happened, but apparently, when we left the booth later in the afternoon to go to the cocktails/opening ceremonies at the other end of the hall, Bianca Araneta-Elizalde passed by and spent a good five or so minutes reading the posters and the freedom board while holding her baby. After a while her husband came, and she handed the kid to him and proceeded to write a big “Pass the bill – Bianca Elizalde” on the poster. All this time, the guy at the next booth kept fretting and looking around and wondering where we were because it was such a Kodak moment. He went to the cocktails and told me all about it, and while he was talking I saw Bianca herself making beso-beso with someone at the cocktails before going off to her car. She was wearing this pretty flowing green dress too, match pa sa booth colors namin. Sayang.

This afternoon the team will split up and go off to the House of Representatives and the Senate to monitor developments, because the Renewable Energy Bill is on the agenda for plenary discussions in both congresses. Today’s news reports quote Sen. Angara and House Speaker Prospero Nograles saying that the RE Bill is one of two bills likely to be passed before Congress breaks for recess (the other one is the Personal Equity Retirement Account or PERA Bill). They have until tomorrow, the last day of session, to do it. I hope it happens today.

Renewables Now!

During Earth Day last year, I and some friends at the Renewable Energy Coalition joined the celebrations at the EarthDay Jam street party in T. Morato, Quezon City giving out these babies:

The “Renewables Now!” baller ID calls for a more aggressive development of the country’s renewable energy resources in order to promote energy security and a cleaner environment. Specifically, it symbolizes the call for Congress to pass the Renewable Energy Bill, which would provide incentives and mechanisms needed to speed up renewable energy development.

One year later, we’re still waiting.

A couple of decades later, actually. The earliest form of the Renewable Energy Bill, then called the bill on “non-conventional” energy, was filed around 19 years ago. So this thing has been nineteen years in the making now. Seriously.

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