First solar power plant in southern Negros unveiled

LA CARLOTA CITY -- After several solar power plants were inaugurated in northern Negros, the first solar farm in southern Negros was unveiled by Negros Island Solar Power Inc. (Islasol) Wednesday, April 6.

Islasol’s 32-megawatt (MW) solar power plant is located in Barangay Cubay. The facility, situated on a 42.4-hectare lot, can supply power to 19,646 homes with 47,150,000 kilowatts of electricity per year, displacing an equivalent of 26,098 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Adjacent to the solar plant, officials of South Negros Bio Power Inc. lead the groundbreaking rites for a 25-MW biomass power plant project that is intended to supply base load power to the local grid and deliver approximately 175 million-kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

The two power plants required an investment of US$300 million and US$150 million, respectively.

The biomass power plant is the second project of South Negros Bio Power on Negros Island, scheduled to be operational in 2018.

The group’s first 20-MW biomass power plant is in San Carlos City and is expected to be operational next year.

Another 25-MW biomass power plant in Manapla town will rise soon.

The groundbreaking rites for the biomass plant were led by Ramon Picornell, president of South Negros BioPower Inc.; La Carlota City Vice Mayor Luis Jalandoni III; Juan Xavier Zabaleta, president of San Carlos BioPower; and Michael Sieg, chairman of Thomas Lloyd.

They were joined by local partner Roberto Cuenca, Department of Energy representative Ruby de Guzman, and contractor Dong Yi Min.

The project is expected to provide 2,500 jobs during its construction, followed by over
500 long-term skilled jobs.

Former Senator Miguel Zubiri, who authored the Renewable Energy Act, also attended the event and thanked everyone who supported and made the project possible, especially the Negrenses.

Negros is becoming a renewable energy capital of the Philippines because of these projects, he added.

More solar power

Also on Wednesday, Islasol unveiled its 48-MW solar power plant located on a 63.8-hectare property in Barangay Sta. Teresa, Manapla town.

The plant is expected to produce 73,864,000 kilowatts of electricity per year and supply power to 30,777 homes, displacing an equivalent of 40,884 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., who was at the inauguration, said that with the additional 80 megawatts of solar power from Islasol, Negros Occidental, with the total renewable power of more than 360 megawatts, has already achieved the title of being the “renewable power capital of the country.”

“With these renewable power I think we have enough and we have to weigh now what is more important between power and food security,” Marañon said, adding that prime agricultural lands in the province would no longer be allowed to be used for additional power plants.

The majority stake in Islasol is owned by the Philippine Investment Alliance For Infrastructure (Pinai), which is a partnership among the Government Service Insurance System, Macquarie Group, and Asian Development Bank.

GSIS owns about 64 percent of Pinai.

Bronzeoak Philippines said that it remains a shareholder and the operator of Islasol. It added that APG Asset Management had also acquired a minority stake in Islasol alongside Pinai, which has solar and biomass projects in Negros Occidental costing US$625 million.

Other officials present in Manapla on Wednesday were Mayor Lourdes Escalante, Islasol president Juan Xavier Zabaleta, Bronzeoak Philippines chairman Jose Maria T. Zabaleta Thomas Lloyd chairman Michael Sieg, and GSIS president and general manager Robert Vergara. (Glazyl Y. Masculino/With reports from TDE)

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