Half of Cebu utility's power supply comes from renewables

CEBU-based power distributor Visayan Electric Company (Veco) gets over half of its power supply from renewable energy sources, but also continues to source from coal and other fossil fuels.

"Renewable energy (RE) is good, but it's not sustainable on its own," Veco chief operating officer Anton Perdices said during the launching forum Thursday, June 29, of SwitchPH, a national campaign for a shift to renewables.

Perdices said that Veco has to maintain a balanced mix of generation sources to provide reliable and competitively priced power.

“A balanced mix of renewable and thermal energy sources can address the different levels and patterns of power demand in the most efficient and cost-effective way,” he said.

Other speakers in the forum pushed for RE and campaigned against coal.

Rodne Galicha, Philippine branch manager of the Climate Reality Project, said Cebu must lead in saying "No" to coal projects.

Former Environment secretary Regina "Gina" Lopez also stressed the need to shift to RE.

"We have wind. We have solar. We must go renewable," Lopez said, adding that only by making use of "what God has given us" can poverty be eradicated.

About a third, or 32%, of the entire country's generation mix came from RE in 2015. Globally, only around 20% of the power supply come from renewables.

Perdices said the RE component of Veco's supply comes mainly from geothermal sources. Veco, which services Metro Cebu, had a peak demand of 524 megawatts (MW) in 2016.

In his speech, Perdices said that RE sources lessen the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels and helps mitigate the effects of climate change.

“In the long term, RE is cheaper than fossil-based technologies. But the initial investment into RE is high at present,” he said.

He said Veco's customers can avail of RE under the net metering scheme. At present, 48 accounts with a total installed capacity of 364 kilowatts are enrolled under Veco's net metering system.

Under the net metering scheme, a household or establishment with solar panels can transfer their surplus power to their distribution utility, like Veco. Perdices said Veco can get additional power supply under this scheme.

Registered households get bi-directional meters that register the amount of power they transfer to the grid and their electricity consumption.

The Renewable Energy Act of 2008 provides that households and establishments can install solar panels with generation capacity of up to 100 kilotwatts to satisfy their electricity demand and to deliver excess power to the local distribution grid. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)


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