Issue of January 6, 2019

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Solar panels owners told to follow rules to ensure safety
by Press release

As the use of solar power increases among home owners and establishment owners, the Department of Energy 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, advises 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 on 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.

Sibayan, however, 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 DU 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 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 they pass the Building Code, and hindi babagsak ang bubong because it passed the permitting process of the LGU.”

Sibayan also pointed out another disadvantage of non-compliance, which is not being in sync with the DU.

“If you are short on power and there’s no generation coming from your solar, you cannot supply your load coming from the DU because it’s not synchronized.

Worse, if you synchronize without fulfilling the requirements, you are liable against the electricity law of the Philippines, such as the Distribution Code,” Sibayan said.

He said problems arise from the outset because their net metering facilities did not go through the process. “This is something we are now addressing,” he said.

Sibayan said fly-by-night installers are another concern as the DOE has been receiving numerous calls about net metering facilities being installed but the metering is not correct.
He cautioned the public about patronizing these suppliers.

He said these “guerilla installers” are only out to make a profit and set up installations without knowing the requirements and the standards in the construction of a net metering facility.


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