Negros Oriental Bats For Renewable Energy, Vows Against Coal In ‘Green SONA’

Negros Oriental Bats For Renewable Energy, Vows Against Coal In ‘Green SONA’

By Featuresdesk (ICG) on August 22, 2018 via Page One

The achievements and continuing initiatives of the province of Negros Oriental toward renewable energy (RE) were the major highlights of this year’s State of Nature Assessment (SONA), organized by non-profit environmental group Green Convergence in partnership with the Forest Foundation of the Philippines and leading renewable energy producer Energy Development Corporation (EDC).

Negros Oriental Governor Roel Ragay Degamo, who was among the guest speakers during the day-long event held in Baguio City on August 20, prefaced his message with an unequivocal statement that he is “an advocate of clean, renewable energy” as “a humble representative of the peace-loving and nature-loving people of Negros Oriental.”

The annual conference, also dubbed “Green SONA,” has been held since 2007 and brings together stakeholders from various sectors such as civil society, private business, academe as well as the government to engage in dialogue to address vital environmental issues.

No to coal

During his speech, Degamo reiterated his province’s stance against fossil fuels in power generation, calling to mind Executive Order No. 9 that he signed in March this year mandating the use of clean and renewable energy in all 19 municipalities and six cities of Negros Oriental.

“This means that our local government will no longer issue any permit, authorization or endorsements that support development and operation of coal-fired and fossil-fuel power plants,” he explained. “The province is committed not to use coal as an energy source because of its impact on the environment, on health and global climate.”

Degamo issued his strongest statement yet against coal, saying it is “incredibly dirty.”

Referring to opposition that his move toward RE has received: “Their argument is true and simple: Coal-fired [power] is cheap. My answer is truer and simpler: Environmental destruction is so expensive. It is never negotiable,” stated Degamo.

Nature-rich province

A first-class agricultural province located in the Central Visayas Region with a population of around 1.4 million, Negros Oriental has a total land area of more than 5,000 square kilometers comprised of 19 municipalities and six cities covered by three congressional districts.

“We are bestowed with beautiful tourist destinations that are nature-based,” said Degamo, highlighting further that beneath the fertile soil along the Cuernos de Negros mountain ranges rests one of the province’s most valuable natural resources, which is a vast geothermal field being effectively tapped to produce electricity.

To date, a total of 222.5 MW of electricity is being produced by Negros Oriental’s two geothermal power plants that is owned and operated by geothermal leader Energy Development Corporation in the municipality of Valencia.

Degamo noted that while the generated capacity of the geothermal plants is currently more than enough to supply the power demands of the province, “due to interconnectivity, our power requirement is not stand-alone. It is included and dependent on the power requirements of the whole Visayas grid,” he explained.

Renewable energy expansions

Degamo revealed how he recognizes the need to tap other RE sources despite having relied on geothermal energy for the past 30 years. A 213,292-square-meter solar power plant in Bais City was inaugurated in 2016, generating 24,205 MWh of electricity annually and supplying more than 10,000 households in the region. He reported that the solar plant saves up to 14,838 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

In 2015, Silliman University in Dumaguete City entered into a partnership with a Filipino-American energy group for what was dubbed as “the largest school-based solar power project in Southeast Asia” that powers the 62-hectare campus with 1.2 MW of solar power.

Degamo also bared the Department of Energy’s upcoming hydroelectric power projects in Negros Oriental—three separate facilities in the municipality of Amlan with a total capacity of 5.5 MW, with target testing and commissioning date of the first two in December 2020 and the final one in December 2025.

 

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