News & Updates

DOE issues Department Order No. DO2024-04-0003 Streamlining Certifications for Energy Projects of National Significance

Patricia A. O. Bunye | Hannah Rose Marian U. Furigay

The Department of Energy (“DOE”) of the Philippines issued on 01 April 2024 Department Order No. DO2024-04-0003 (the “Department Order”), entitled Prescribing the Framework and Guidelines for the Processing of Applications for Certificate of Energy Projects of National Significance (CEPNS).  The Department Order is a significant regulatory update that revises the criteria and processes to optimize the application procedures, facilitating a more efficient pathway for energy projects that are critical to the national energy framework.


This initiative is designed to accelerate the approval and implementation of large-scale energy projects by effectively reducing unnecessary administrative delays, thereby supporting the rapid advancement of energy infrastructure that is vital for the country’s development and energy security.


Scope and Coverage of Energy Projects of National Significance (“EPNS”)

Under Section 2 of the Department Order, major energy projects identified and certified as EPNS by the DOE include those aligned with the policy thrusts and goals outlined in the Philippine Energy Plan (PEP). These projects encompass a broad spectrum of activities, which include:


  1. Exploration, development, production, utilization, commercialization, and application of both conventional and non-conventional energy resources, across upstream and downstream sectors. This also includes all associated facilities and processes that are integral to the energy project.


  1. Initiatives focused on power generation, transmission, distribution, and ancillary services, especially those essential for maintaining grid stability and security, supporting distribution load growth, and advancing the country’s energy transition goals.


  1. Projects aimed at the development and promotion of electric vehicles, alternative energy sources, and the application of new technologies.


Attributes for National Significance

Section 3 of the Department Order details the necessary attributes of an energy project which may be certified as an EPNS. These attributes include:


  1. A significant capital investment of at least PHP 3.5 billion.


  1. A considerable contribution to the country’s economic development, especially in terms of enhancing energy access and supply security.


  1. A consequential economic impact, demonstrated by the project’s potential to create jobs, boost employment, and increase government revenue.


  1. A potential contribution to the country’s balance of payments through the inflow of foreign investment capital.


  1. A substantial positive environmental impact, contributing to sustainability and minimizing adverse effects.


  1. Involvement of complex technical processes or pioneering energy systems and technologies.


  1. A significant infrastructure requirement necessary for delivering energy services or supply, such as transmission and distribution networks and other related capital expenditures.


Renewable energy generation projects that qualify under the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) system, have been declared as winning bids in the Green Energy Auction Program (GEAP), or have been selected through other DOE policies and programs automatically qualify for a CEPNS.


Benefits to CEPNS Holders

Projects awarded a CEPNS enjoy several significant rights, one of which is expedited processing. Projects with a CEPNS benefit from shortened processing times pursuant to the periods prescribed under Republic Act No. 11234, the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop (EVOSS) Act or Executive Order No. 30, Series of 2017 [Creating the Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EICC) in Order to Streamline the Regulatory Procedures Affecting Energy Projects], as the case may be.


Additionally, projects with a CEPNS are entitled to prioritized and simultaneous processing of permits and other requirements. This means that the project can be processed expeditiously without having to wait for actions from other government agencies, even if such actions are typically a precondition or a requirement for processing. This streamlined approach minimizes waiting time and inter-agency delays, significantly speeding up project timelines.


Another right is the presumption of issuance. Government agencies will assume that a CEPNS holder has all necessary permits from other agencies. However, holders must still adhere to all relevant laws and regulations to ensure they meet all legal requirements.


CEPNS holders also have the right to an explained denial. If there are defects or lapses in the submitted documents, holders will be notified and given time to rectify these issues. Should a denial be necessary, the denial will come with a detailed written explanation outlining the specific reasons or grounds for the decision.


The rights granted under a CEPNS also extend to the associated infrastructure of the project, known as the inclusion of associated facilities. This ensures that all components integral to the project’s success are covered by the certification.


Finally, holding a CEPNS constitutes an endorsement by the DOE for the permitting of energy projects by other government agencies. This endorsement simplifies many of the bureaucratic hurdles that might otherwise complicate or delay project implementation.


For stakeholders looking to secure a CEPNS under the Department Order, this streamlined framework represents a significant advancement. With clear guidelines on the scope of eligible projects and defined attributes for certification, energy developers are better positioned to align their projects with national objectives and expedite their development timelines. Moreover, the rights and privileges afforded to CEPNS holders, such as expedited processing, prioritized permit handling, and the presumption of issuance, significantly reduce bureaucratic barriers, facilitating a quicker transition from planning to implementation.