‘Keep to the law when using solar’

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As the use of solar power increases among home owners and establishments alike, the Department of Energy (DoE) is stressing the importance of complying with the relevant technical and legal requirements in order to preempt potential issues, especially possible violations of the law.

Fortunato Sibayan, chief of the DoE’s solar and wind energy management division, is advising consumers, even those who don’t participate in the net metering program, to ensure they meet the requirements when installing their solar facilities.

Sibayan spoke at a recent forum on energy options for micro, small and medium enterprises organized by the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PHILEXPORT) to raise awareness of emerging energy technologies.

Under the net metering scheme, consumers with solar installations not exceeding 100 kilowatts in generated power agree to sell to their distribution utility (DU) their excess electricity. Essentially, net metering allows home owners and business establishments to install solar photovoltaic panels to partly satisfy their electricity demand by themselves.

But Sibayan said consumers must know and comply with the technical requirements as mandated in the guidelines issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission on the installation of solar panels.

Moreover, he said they must also go to their distribution utility and apply for a net metering interconnection if they want to sell their excess load.

All users, even those who are not part of net metering, must likewise go to their local government units (LGUs) to apply for the necessary permits, such as building and electrical permits, to comply with the building code.

He said this is meant to ensure that their facility can withstand strong winds and won’t fly off to cause damages or fatalities. If the owner has the required permits, this means “you pass the building code… and hindi babagsak ang bubong (the roof won’t collapse) because it passed the permitting process of the LGU. Yun ang requirement sa LGU kaya pupunta tayo dun maski hindi net metering ang gagawin natin sa bahay (This is an LGU requirement so we have to go to the LGU even if we’re not getting net metering for our house).”

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