Solar Philippines to use solar-battery mini grids to power remote areas

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Solar Philippines accepted the National Association of General Managers of Electric Cooperative’s (NAGMEC) challenge to power remote areas through solar-battery mini grids.

Solar Para Sa Bayan, a unit of Solar Philippines, said in a statement that competition is welcome as it promotes diverse and quality servicing in providing distant areas.

“If the mere specter of competition inspires electric utilities to improve their services, that is an affirmation of the need for healthy competition. If the entry of companies like us will end the complacency of incumbent monopolies, then our mission is accomplished,” Solar Philippines Founder and President Leandro Leviste said.

Solar Para Sa Bayan announced that it is bringing 24/7 power to 12 towns including Mindoro, Palawan, Masbate, Cagayan, and Aurora before the year ends.

“The towns’ requests for better electric service have been ignored for years. Yet now they’re being served by an alternative provider, certain coops would prefer these towns have no power at all,” Leviste said.

National Electrification Administration (NEA) administrator Edgardo Masongsong approved of the said development since the said areas are in huge need of power supply.

“I will be happy if he will prioritize the Basulta area—Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi,” he said, noting the areas only has a recorded energization level of 33 percent.

In response to NAGMEC President Sergio Dagooc’s statement that electrification without government subsidy is not sustainable, Leviste said Solar Para Sa Bayan is already operating without government subsidies.

“We started this for a social mission: not to make the most profit, but to help the greatest number of our fellow Filipinos,” he said. “What is needed is for the government to allow private investors to use new technologies to serve consumers on a non-exclusive basis.”

In order to subsidize the power project, the NEA has requested P 25 billion. The estimated reach is 2,399,108 households: 529,952 in Luzon; 524,040 in Visayas; and 1,345,116 in Mindanao.

However, the Department of Energy (DOE) has emphasized that resources are insufficient to reach 100 percent electrification by 2022.

Malacanang is reportedly drafting an Executive Order to entice private sectors to invest in rural electrification.