28 September 2021
Philippines

As the public demand for greener alternatives to energy-consuming products rises, the Philippine government is hard at work in implementing new policies, frameworks and guidelines to heed this call. The latest in this trend is Department Circular No. DC2021-07-0023, or the Policy Framework on the Guidelines for the Development, Establishment, and Operation of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in the Philippines (“EVCS Policy Guidelines”)[1] issued by the Department of Energy (“DOE”) on 9 July 2021. The EVCS Policy Guidelines seek to promote a more “judicious conservation and efficient utilisation of energy sources”[2] in one of the most energy-consuming industries, the transportation sector.

Prior to the introduction of the EVCS Policy Guidelines, under DOE’s Revised Rules and Regulations Governing the Business of Retailing Liquid Fuels,[3] liquid fuel retail outlets may only engage in the conduct of EVCS, battery swapping and other similar activities after due notification to the DOE. With the issuance of the EVCS Policy Guidelines, there are now express rules for non-liquid fuel retail outlets to engage in EVCS-related activities.

An EVCS operator is any person or entity who owns and operates EVCS for private, semi-public and public use, which may be installed in private or public buildings, establishments, and liquid fuel retail outlets. The EVCS operator may open the use of the EVCS facility to the public for a fee or for its own private use. In addition, electricity distribution utilities may also engage in the EVCS business provided they comply with the applicable rules and guidelines on the business separation and unbundling of the Energy Regulatory Commission.

Significant provisions of the EVCS Policy Guidelines

There is a need to notify the DOE prior to the engagement in any EVCS activity.

Before any EVCS operator can engage in the business of providing EVCS services or prior to the construction of EVCS facilities, the EVCS operator must file a notice with the DOE’s Energy Utilization Management Bureau (“EUMB”), the bureau responsible for the plans and programs related to the development and effective utilisation of emerging EV technologies.

The notice, the template for which is annexed to the EVCS Policy Guidelines, is to be submitted along with the proofs of registration of the EVCS operator with the Securities and Exchange Commission (for corporations and partnerships) or Department of Trade and Industry (for solo proprietors), its operational permits and licenses, project plan indicating the scope of operation and business activity, fire safety inspection certificate issued by the Bureau of Fire Protection (“BFP”), product certificate of quality and/or or safety issued by the Bureau of Philippine Standards (“BPS”) and environmental compliance certificate issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (“DENR”), if applicable.

However, these supporting documents, with the exception of the fire safety inspection certificate issued by the BFP and the product certificate of quality and/or safety secured from the BPS, are not required for EVCS classified as private charging stations, or those installed in private buildings and establishments for the EVCS operator’s own use.

The EVCS operator should comply with the general requirements, standards and safety operation guidelines.

In addition to the EVCS Policy Guidelines, an EVCS operator shall also comply with the Building Code of the Philippines, the Philippine Electrical Code, and the Guidelines on Energy Conserving Design of Buildings.[4] These laws and regulations provide for the minimum requirements for the location and installation of EVCS and its electrical-related components, ensuring the safety, accessibility, operability, sustainability and integrity of the EVCS.

Compliance with the national standards adopted by the BPS, such as the Philippine National Standards (“PNS”) International Electrotechnical Commission (“IEC”) 61851[5], 62840-1[6], 62752[7], among others, should likewise be observed. Consistent with said PNS and existing safety standards, all components of the EVCS shall be certified with a Philippine Standard license and/or by an Import Commodity Clearance Certificate, including the plugs, sockets and cables.

Additionally, to ensure the EVCS is being operated safely, the EVCS should be periodically maintained and assessed by a duly licensed professional or organisation, commencing a year after its operation or connection to the grid or any supply of electricity. The EVCS operator, classified as either semi-public or public, is also enjoined to comply with other reportorial requirements, such as quarterly reports of the actual energy consumption of the EVCS.

Conclusion

The use of EV and other greener alternatives is gaining traction globally, and the technology needed to feed the public’s demand is constantly and exponentially developing. It thus is only right and responsible that governments and regulators take an approach commensurate to the dynamic nature of the EV industry.

In the Philippines, EV users are still a minority in the entire transportation ecosystem, which is not helped by the fact that charging stations remain to be low in numbers. EV advocates can hope that more businesses engage or invest in EVCS operations as the registration and compliance requirements have been streamlined with the adoption of the EVCS Policy Guidelines on top of the incentives available to EVCS operators as provided in Philippine laws.

If you have any questions or require any additional information, please contact Felix Sy or Reeneth B. Santos of Insights Philippines Legal Advisors (a member of ZICO Law).

This alert is for general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice.

[1] For purposes of the EVCS Policy Guidelines, EVCS includes battery swap stations.

[2] Preamble, EVCS Policy Guidelines

[3] DOE Department Circular No. DC2017-11-011 (22 November 2017)

[4] DOE Department Circular No. DC2020-1-0026 (22 December 2020)

[5] Electric vehicle conductive charging system – Part 1: General Requirements

[6] Electric vehicle battery swap system

[7] In-cable control and protection device for mode 2 charging of electric road vehicles