MANILA -– With about 284-Megawatt (MW) of Wind Farm power in its province alone, Ilocos Norte is the Renewable Energy (RE) capital of Southeast Asia, according to Governor Imee Marcos.
”Not only the (RE) capital of the Philippines – but also of Southeast Asia – there’s no one else,” Marcos told reporters.
She highlighted the province has strong and consistent wind conditions that’s ideal for wind farms, while also citing solar panels are presently being installed in some of the wind farm lots – making them hybrid RE farms.
However, Marcos said the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) having the title as the first with hybrid farm still has to be clarified since it still lacks a permit for installing its 4-MW solar panels.
”Solar also has already began with the first hybrid in Burgos, although that has to be clarified because they installed solar panels without permit,” she said.
Aside from EDC, Northwind Power Development Corporation is also planning to put up a 2-MW solar farm in its Bangui Wind Farm lot, presently testing different types of solar panels.
The Ilocos Norte Governor bared some challenges on Ilocos Norte having more RE projects, citing landowners are becoming hesitant to sell their land after being answered that the potential RE farm will not automatically help reduce their power bills.
”I’m having a hard time convincing people to give up their land near the seashore, because they also want to see that this will result in lower electricity rates per month,” she said.
Under the RE law, the RE farm’s capacity are still mandated to be offered through the Electricity Market, Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), and not automatically to the electric cooperatives of the province as in the case of coal plants.
But, the province will still benefit through taxes from the RE farms and with the companies’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects, according to Marcos. She further cited a company is still talking to her about lowering their tax, despite it successfully passing off power to the grid in 2014.
She added another issue, is the environmental damages brought by the building of these RE farms.
”We had problems that clean energy doesn’t mean clean producers. We’re very clean and green here in Ilocos Norte, we love trees, corals, rocks and sands, but sometimes the chief violators are the clean energy producers,” Marcos stressed.
The former presidential daughter hopes that this will be a learning process that even big corporations will follow the local government’s environmental laws, stressing the province is also known for tourism.
”As a province, we pride ourselves in a very natural special environment that we sell since a lot depends on their livelihood from tourism and adventure tourism. So it’s hard that they become damaged… It’s a very fragile environment and needs to be taken care of,” she said.
Aside from power investments and tourism, Marcos hopes that communications, business-process-outsourcing (BPO) and value-added agriculture will also flourish in Ilocos Norte.
On the other hand, the province has currently three wind farms, namely 53-MW Northwind Power Development Corporation, 150-MW Energy Development Corporation and 81-MW Northern Luzon UPC Asia Corporation.
Ilocos Norte has no present running on-grid solar farm in its province.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has endorsed 249.9-MWs of capacity from the Ilocos Norte-based Wind Farms to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT).
It offers long-term contracts to pay for the power obtained from RE technologies, which usually have expensive upfront investment costs.