PNoy: PH makes history with solar project

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Friday, May 16, 2014


PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino III said Thursday the Philippines is making history by inaugurating its first large-scale solar power plant developed by San Carlos Solar Energy Inc. (SaCaSol) in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.

"Today, we are not just inaugurating a power plant; we are also making history. Because of this new project, the Visayas grid will eventually benefit from an additional 22 megawatts,” the President said in his speech.

Aquino led the switch-on of the project’s Phase 1 with a capacity of 13 megawatts. Phase 2 of the P1.9-billion power project with nine megawatts is targeted to be completed next month.

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The solar farm, which is situated on a 35-hectare area at the San Carlos Economic Zone, supplies power to the Visayas grid.

“All this, while SaCaSol displaces carbon emissions equivalent to the emissions produced by 14,805 tons of oil for each year of operations,” the President said.

He added that the project “serves as a shining example of the collective steps we are taking to minimize climate risk – the fruit of our efforts to ensure that future generations will not be subject to the same vulnerabilities as we are now.”

Aquino underscored the importance of renewable energy projects to the nation’s economy and prosperity of its people.

He added that through jobs creation and a larger and more stable power supply, the Filipinos quality of life increases greatly.

The President also lauded the developers of the solar power plant for bringing much needed foreign investments into the country with the almost P2 billion project cost funded on full equity financing.

In a press briefing, Petilla said the government is eyeing to increase from 50 MW to 500 MW the cap for renewable energy projects to lure in more investors.

Aquino said the success of SaCaSol “dovetails perfectly with our administration’s goal of having a more diverse energy mix, which is able to meet our country’s needs thus, redounding to a more consistent energy supply.”

He said that for the year 2013, the average available capacity of the Visayas grid stood at 1,678 MW while average peak demand was at 1,390 MW.

“There are adequate reserves but, of course, given the current economic momentum of the country, we cannot be content with present conditions; we also have to plan for the future,” the President said.

In Sagay City, the President, who led the inauguration of the P313-million Himoga-an Bridge and Access Road, said the bridge is much safer now because the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) built it using high-quality construction materials.

He added that the opening of the bridge will help the local economy as it cuts the travel time in transporting sugarcane from the farms to the mills and refineries.

It will also boost tourism because it will enable tourists to reach their destinations faster, he said.

The President expressed his gratitude to DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson for completing the project as well as provincial officials who helped build the Himoga-an Bridge.

Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., whose hometown is Sagay, told the President, “When you visited us two years ago, we asked for this Himoga-an Bridge and in my 51 years in public service, this is the quickest from the project request to project completion. We should also thank Secretary Rogelio Singson because we asked only for this bridge, but he gave us the approach also."

During the inauguration rites, Aquino was joined by Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla and Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, SaCaSol chairman Jose Maria T. Zabaleta and president Jose Maria P. Zabaleta Jr., Senator Loren Legarda, German Ambassador Thomas Ossowski, among others.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 16, 2014.

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