Oro lawmaker bats for solar energy-A A +A
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
SWITCHING to solar power would save the Cagayan de Oro City Government millions of pesos in electricity bills, a local legislator said.
Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr. is optimistic that investing in solar energy would mean P22.5 million savings for the city instead of paying P30 million yearly to Cagayan de Oro Electric Power and Light Company (Cepalco).
Lao said the 75 percent of the overall consumption of the City Government is spent on the streetlights.
“It’s high time that the City Government will invest on solar energy and probably, we can have our streetlights converted into solar-powered lights because data showed, which I took from the city accounting office, (most percentage) of the overall electricity consumption of the city went to the street lights,” he added.
Lao, the chairman on committee on energy, cited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as saying that the Philippines is abundant with sunlight due to its location, north of the equator, and can harness power from the sun at an average of 5.1 kilowatt per day.
“But this potential is not realized because we are apparently discouraged by the high cost of putting up a solar energy kit compared with getting electricity at Cepalco,” said Lao, but added: “Innovative financing is the key.”
In his special report, Lao said innovative financing could lead to high growth if new sources of low cost capital are available for the sector.
It also noted that the speed of the sector’s transition to grid parity meant that most local governments are primordial to promote the desired growth of the solar sector over the next several decades.
It also said that the solar sector could also continue to be significant because of the rising electricity prices, and the need for competitive generation sources, lowered balance-system costs and it is tantamount to eliminate power shortages for the next several years.
“Solar generation would continue to gain significant share of new capacity as it will appear increasingly attractive in a long term solution against the rising electricity prices and fuel price uncertainty,” Lao said in his special report.
P125-million Cepalco bills
Lao’s report came after he learned the City has been billed by Cepalco of P125 million for its nine years electricity consumption, including the accumulated unpaid arrears.
“This amount is very huge and it can be diverted into construction of more school classrooms especially in the hinterland barangays, purchasing of textbooks for schoolchildren or perhaps medicines for rural health centers and foods for the needy. If only this city government have initiated in the past or introduced alternative measures to lessen and economize the annual energy expenditures,” Lao said.
But Councilor Ramon Tabor said the investment on solar energy would only triple or quadruple the cost of the annual electricity bills of the City Government, as it would need rewiring of existing electricity connections to solar wirings.
“If ever we adopt (solar energy), we need to start from the very beginning. The cost would be tremendous. Gubaon pa ang existing connections kay dili na magamit (Destroy the existing connections since they couldn’t be used). Or put up additional wirings for the purpose. We need to study the pros and cons, time to study and evaluate to adopt it in the future,” Tabor said.
However, Tabor, an opposition councilor, is willing to support Lao’s proposal since as the city can save much.
Councilor President Elipe, also an opposition councilor, expressed support to Lao’s proposal, but explained that solar energy didn’t kick off because of its investment cost.
“Solar is a very good alternative for (the city). At day time, we save water. At night time, water again. But investors would back out due to lack of incentives,” Elipe said.
Mindanao mostly produces electricity through hydroelectric and coal fired power plants.
According to Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the power generation in Mindanao at present is 52 percent hydro and 31 percent coal.
By 2020, MinDA projects that 56 percent of power in Mindanao will come from coal and 24 percent from water.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 09, 2013.