(PNA file photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA – The House Committee on Energy, chaired by Pampanga 2nd District Representative Juan Miguel "Mikey" Macapagal Arroyo, has passed important laws to ensure adequate and affordable power and fuel in the country, while continuing to find ways to further improve the local industry and economy.

In a statement on Sunday, Arroyo said aside from the proposed amendments to Republic Act (RA) 8479 or the “Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998”, his committee has tackled and approved several important pieces of legislation that will further develop, upgrade and modernize the local energy sector.

RA 8479 removed government control on the pricing of petroleum products allowing market forces to dictate oil prices.

The Committee on Energy is one of the largest in the House of Representatives, as it has 65 members including the chairperson and nine vice chairpersons. The committee has general and exclusive jurisdiction over all matters relating to the exploration, development, exploitation, utilization or conservation of energy resources; entities involved in power generation, transmission and distribution; and supply of all forms of energy and energy fuels.

Records from the committee showed that as of Dec. 15, 2021, the committee conducted a total of 44 virtual meetings during the 18th Congress, including 14 technical working group meetings, seven pre-bicameral meetings and two bicameral conference committee meetings despite the limitations caused by the pandemic.

“A total of 15 committee reports were filed which are of national significance,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo, together with Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, also co-chaired the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC) meeting and briefing on the “power supply and demand outlook” last year to get an update on the status of implementation of several landmark laws such as Republic Act 11285 or Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act and RA 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act.

Arroyo said during the 18th Congress, the committee identified eight priority legislative measures and nine laws to be subject of legislative oversight function of the committee.

The priority legislative measures include the creation of the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute; establishing the Regulatory Framework for the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Industry; Electric Vehicle Industry Development; Energy Advocacy Council Office; Use of Microgrid Systems; Waste-to-Energy Technology; Downstream Natural Gas Industry Development; and Strengthening the Energy Regulatory Commission.

Records from the chamber showed that in 2021 alone, 46 measures were referred to the committee, including 28 bills and 18 resolutions. The committee acted on 44 bills of national significance.

In the whole 18th Congress, a total of 187 measures, including 131 bills and 56 resolutions were referred to the committee.

Meanwhile, the House ratified a number of proposed measures, among them House Bill 8203 which promotes the use of Microgrid Systems to accelerate the total electrification of unserved and underserved areas nationwide.

Under deliberation are several important measures such as the proposed amendments to the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act; installation of underground cables and wires; conversion of the National Electrification Administration to National Electrification Authority; government assistance to distribution utilities and electricity end-users as well as several resolutions to help electric cooperatives and consumers.

Arroyo said all of these measures were carefully studied, debated and acted upon by the House Committee on Energy with the Filipino consumers as the top consideration. (PR)