TOP government officials, including President Rodrigo Duterte, have lauded the initiative of listed sugar firm Victorias Milling Company (VMC) in building a 40-megawatt (MW) cogeneration biomass power plant worth P2 billion in Victorias City.
In a message delivered by Energy Undersecretary Benito Ranque during the inauguration of the facility on Tuesday, May 7, Duterte said such milestone reflects the legacy of the Negros Occidental-based company in the sugar industry.
“It is also proof of commitment to building a strong culture of energy resiliency,” he added.
The 40MW facility that uses baggase, a by-product of sugarcane, for energy generation is the largest standalone and Department of Energy (DOE)-registered biomass power plant in the country.
Ranque, who also echoed the message of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, said the country is faced with task of searching for sustainable energy options to sustain the energy requirement of its economic and social development goals.
As Filipinos faces natural and human-induced challenges, Ranque said the DOE has been actively pursuing the maximization of renewable energy (RE) use in the country.
“You have taken a step forward with the creation of an additional biomass facility that increases your energy production while helping provide clean energy,” he said, adding the biomass project of VMC, along with its bioethanol production venture, assures the protection of environment by mitigating the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuel.
The inauguration, which also marked the centennial anniversary celebration of VMC, was also attended by senators Cynthia Villar and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Villar, who chairs the Senate committee on environment and agriculture and food, said sugar has now been utilized not only for food but also for energy generation.
The senator said the new power plant is a “very good” addition to the operation of VMC’s business segment and another achievement under the biomass renewable energy operating contract of the firm with the DOE.
Villar is also the primary author of Republic Act 10659 or the Sugar Industry Development Act of 2015.
“The enhanced research and development of other products derived from sugar, sugarcane and their by-products is among the measures cited in the law in order to make the sugarcane industry more competitive, maximize the utilization of sugarcane resources and improve the income of farmers and farmworkers,” she added.
Zubiri, author of Renewable Energy Act of 2010 and Biofuels Act of 2006, said the sugar industry does not only provide sugar, it also produces valuable products such as power, energy and fuel.
“The future of the sugar industry is the three products produced by sugarcane -- power, fuel and sugar. That is the only way to survive,” he said.
The Negrense senator also expressed hopes that once the biomass power plant is connected to the grid, the company will share the dividend to the farmer-producers.
For his part, VMC chairman Wilson Young said the project will not only benefit the community and Negros but also help in a small measure in building the nation as the company pursues the build, build, build project of the President.
Also present during the activity were Third District Representative Alfredo Abelardo Benitez and Victorias City Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca.