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DoE touts new funding for indigenous communities hosting power projects

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THE Department of Energy (DoE) said the guidelines for indigenous communities to derive financial benefits from hosting of power generation plants and projects will soon take effect, and encouraged these communities to make appropriate preparations.

In a statement Monday, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said the issuance of the guidelines is a “symbolic way” to mark the 25th year of implementation of the Energy Regulation (ER) 1-94 Program.

He said the DoE “recognizes the right of our tribal and indigenous communities to optimize available social development opportunities and preserve their critical role as the stewards of our energy resources, particularly where the power plants and/or the energy resource development projects are located.”

The Department Circular DC2019-06-0010 prescribes the “Administrative Operating Guidelines for the Availment and Utilization of Financial Benefits by the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples, pursuant to DoE Department Circular No. DC2018-03-0005.”

Under the circular, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is to endorse all legitimate indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) beneficiaries to the DoE within 30 days from receiving from them all the necessary requirements.

The DoE will then notify the concerned generation company and/or energy resource developer of the inclusion of the host ICCs/IPs for the remittance of their financial benefits. The policy enables the host to use the funds for social development projects.

Mr. Cusi said the arrangement with the ICCs/IPs further strengthens the DoE’s commitment “to boost their participation, cooperation and sustained partnership in power development projects.”

The DoE circular was published on July 12, 2019 and will take effect 15 days from its publication date.

Under the ER 1-94 Program, communities hosting power generation facilities or energy resources are entitled to one centavo per kilowatt-hour of the total electricity sales of generation companies or energy resource developers.

One of the major changes introduced by the guidelines is the direct remittance of financial benefits to host communities for their immediate utilization. The move to streamline the release of funding was meant to eliminate the bureaucratic process that hampers socio-economic development of the communities hosting the power plants. — Victor V. Saulon

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