WHEN I learned few years ago of plans to set up solar power farms and few micro hydro projects in Negros, I was probably one of the first to salute the initiatives.
I thought it was a right move from the Provincial Government having successively stood for organic island, and then declared the island as the national center of renewable energy.
After the solar power farms and other renewable energy projects were constructed one after another in San Carlos City, then Manapla, Cadiz City, La Carlota City, Binalbagan, with a total dependable power output of 360 MW, I learned that their output have to be transmitted to the grid and supply to the power distributors like the so called electric coops, among others.
Yes, to the grid and the power distributors! They buy the solar power from generation and transmission companies at cheaper rates, average P5.30 per kWh to P7.80 per kWh, then sell it at almost the same greedy power rates as with coal and oil-based energy to mass of consumers who have long been burdened by the unrelenting increase in power rates.
The entry of solar power and other renewable energy in Negros power utilities have not reduced the power rates, it increased instead.
This could have spelled a big difference if the solar power farms distribute directly to every household, to every rooftop as in in Europe, Japan and other northern countries.
Of course, they don’t and will not because their motive is profit and super profit and not, or never, nada, the welfare of the consumers and the protection of the planet.
It is also clear by now that there has been dishonesty and deception in the advocacy of the Provincial Government that Negros Island is the center of renewable energy. Yes, in form but never in substance and purpose.
Around 88 percent of the total power sourced out by five major power distributors in the island, Ceneco, Noceco, Noneco, Noreco I and II comes from the dirty and highly pollutant coal-fired power and oil-based energy, and not from renewable energy.
The bigger chunk of the solar and other renewable energy is sold by the generators to the grid and the latter reportedly makes energy mix magic in its distribution.
So what do we have in Negros now?
On one hand, solar power and other renewable energy as a big business of capitalist energy companies masquerading as pro-RE and pro-people. Solar power farms consuming almost a thousand hectares of agricultural lands which could have been put to food security production farms.
On the other hand, a provincial government, past and present, which can’t go beyond their being a pseudo pro-RE and fake environmentalist, and can’t do much in stopping or regulating the use of dirty and destructive coal-fired power.
If I were to give my unsolicited advice to advocates of renewable energy, I would strongly suggest that they lobby for the passage, both national and provincial level, of the solar rooftop bill filed by former Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casino.
Huge solar power farms should be stopped, and instead promote solar rooftop villages in every district. It’s not only economical in terms of investment cost, it is also cheaper or affordable for the consumers.
The other is to lobby for the creation of renewable energy body in the provincial level and/or inter provincial level which can serve as the clearing house and technical body for all solar power and renewable energy projects in the province, or even in the island level. This body should be composed of representatives from the provincial council, office of the governor, DOE, some technical experts, and from the CSOs and POs with strong advocacy for renewable energy.
I suggest, let’s start with these two actions, and let’s see how the concept progresses.