President Marcos hopes Congress passes nuclear investments bill

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
President Marcos hopes Congress passes nuclear investments bill
President Marcos leads the Philippine delegation, including Speaker Martin Romualdez and several members of the Cabinet, in a meeting with officials of the Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. led by its founder and CEO Francesco Venneri last Thursday at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Washington to discuss the status of USNC’s investment plans in the Philippines.

WASHINGTON — President Marcos expressed hope that Congress would pass bills allowing US nuclear firm Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. (USNC) to undertake its project in the Philippines as the government continues to explore ways to ensure access to clean and affordable energy sources.

During a meeting with USNC executives last Thursday here, Philippine officials updated Marcos on the bills that seek to provide the legal framework for the company’s planned investment and operation in the Philippines. 

Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said the House of Representatives had passed the bill on the regulatory framework, while the measure on the limitation of liability is on second reading in the chamber. 

“With such development, the President said he is hopeful the bill gets passed in the Senate,” the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said in a statement.

The House and the Senate must approve their respective versions of the bill before a bicameral conference committee can be convened to reconcile varying provisions.

Once the bicameral conference committee harmonizes the measure, the bill would have to be ratified separately by both chambers before it is sent to the President for his signature.

“You’re done already in the House... The elements that need to be there, the provisions that need to be (included), we can do (it) in the Senate and then there’s one of course, the bicam down the road,” the PCO statement quoted Marcos as saying.

“We spoke about this before. We’re going to go ahead with the program, with the training of the people who will actually operate the plant,” he added.

The PCO said Marcos also “hailed” the advancements in USNC’s planned nuclear energy investment in the Philippines.

The meeting, which was attended by USNC chief executive officer Francesco Venmeri, was a follow-up to Marcos’ engagement with officials of the energy firm here in May last year and the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco last November.

Under the MOU, the Manila Electric Co. and USNC will conduct a pre-feasibility study on micro-modular reactors to explore clean and sustainable energy options.

The feasibility study for the possible deployment of micro modular reactors will be conducted in Meralco sites as part of ongoing efforts to ensure dependable and affordable access to power.

According to the PCO, Meralco has the option to conduct a more detailed feasibility study with focus on the adoption and deployment of micro modular reactor (MMR) energy systems. 

The agency described the MMR as “a fourth-generation nuclear energy system that delivers safe, zero-carbon, cost effective electricity and heat to utilities, industry and remote communities.”

Marcos had described the partnership as a “significant step towards exploring clean and sustainable energy options for the Philippines,” adding that it was in line with the government’s commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions and boost the country’s climate change resilience. 

USNC, a global leader and vertical integrator of nuclear technologies and services, joined the US Presidential Trade and Investment Mission last month. 

Among the company’s key initiatives are the MMR, fully ceramic micro-encapsulated nuclear fuel and nuclear power and propulsion technologies for space exploration. 

In November, the Philippines and the US signed the 123 Agreement, which allows Washington to export nuclear technology and equipment to Manila for peaceful uses.

The deal was named after Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act, which requires the completion of a peaceful nuclear cooperation deal for significant transfers of nuclear material from the US. 

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