Solar plants eyed for Bantayan

By Victor Anthony V. Silva |February 29,2016 - 10:13 PM
PB SESSION MONDIGO/FEB.29,2016:Provincial board member Joven Mondigo Jr wants solar power facilities in Bantayan Island.(CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON)

Provincial Board (PB) Member Joven Mondigo Jr. explains the necessity of installing solar plants during the session. (CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON)

The installation of solar power plants in Bantayan Island could help resolve the long-term power needs of the area, Provincial Board (PB) Member Joven Mondigo Jr. said yesterday.

The PB approved a resolution filed by Mondigo asking Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III to implement measures to address the power shortage in the island towns of Bantayan, Madridejos and Sta. Fe.

“The long-term solution that I see is solar power. That’s why there should be a study on whether it is feasible in the area. Anyway, some local government units are doing it already,” he told Cebu Daily News in a text message.

Madridejos Mayor Salvador dela Fuente said an international non-government organization proposed to the municipal government that they build a solar power plant in the town in the wake of its devastation by Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013.

“I forgot the name, but that was before. They never got in touch again. There haven’t been any interested parties since,” he said.

Dela Fuente said he would welcome parties who are interested to put up solar power facilities in his town.

The mayor also said he sees solar power as a lasting solution to the present power crisis in the island.

He said an open, hilly area with sparse trees and no households is available in Barangay Kangawayan.

The nearly one-hectare property was donated to the town by businessman Wellington Chan-Lim, one of the island’s biggest producers of eggs.

“We have the land. All we lack are the facilities,” Dela Fuente said.

As of yesterday, he said the island was still experiencing rotational brownouts.

Davide will meet all three mayors, representatives of the Bantayan Island Power Corp. (Bipcor), and Bantayan Electric Cooperative Inc. (Banelco) in Sta. Fe town today to discuss other long-term solutions to the problem.

Also invited were Regional Director Antonio Labios of the Department of Energy Central Visayas and representatives of the local business and tourism sector.

In a press conference yesterday, Davide said he wants to find out from the meeting how the provincial government can help.

Davide said Banelco loaned P15 million for fuel supply during the administration of then-Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and has not paid a single amortization up to now.

The governor said early last year, Banelco officials asked not to be made to pay yet and he agreed. He said he is amenable to the suggestion of putting up solar power facilities on the island.

A P2.5-billion 25-megawatt solar power plant of CeKO  Solar Farm Systems Corp. is expected to rise in Daanbantayan, northern Cebu, this year.

The facility will stand on a 25-hectare property in Barangays Tominjao and Pajo, with a total of 80,000 solar panels that will produce 43,800 MW of power annually and generate power for 4.8 hours daily.

Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro said the facility is scheduled for operation by the first quarter of 2017.

Last year, SunAsia Energy invested P5.6 billion for a 60-megawatt solar power facility occupying 70 hectares of land in Barangay Talavera, Toledo City.

On the site, 200,000 high-grade solar panels will be installed and they are expected to generate 861,199 MW-hours of power every year.

Toledo City Mayor John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña, in a phone interview, said the construction was stalled for some time after the developer got into problems with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

However, he said the issues have been resolved recently and they have resumed work on the site.

Once completed, the two power plants will be the biggest renewable energy facilities in Cebu.

For now, Labios assured that the island’s power supply will soon be restored.

“The electricity provider in Bantayan is privately owned, so we (DOE) cannot interfere. But we are sure that they have already tried to procure a spare generator,” he said.

Labios asked the island’s residents to be patient, as Bipcor is already doing all it can to mitigate the effects of the rotational brownouts. Bipcor is Bantayan Island’s only power provider.

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