Iloilo LGUs save thousands of pesos monthly due to renewable energy

The towns of Pototan and Concepcion in Iloilo province save up to PHP 100,000 a month in electricity bills because of the newly installed solar PVs that power up a provincial hospital, a legislative building, schools, an evacuation center, a fire station, and other public utilities.

The renewable energy (RE) facilities have been installed as part of the Iloilo Provincial Renewable Energy Plan (I-PREP) with support from the Department of Energy (DOE) in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Support Facility for Renewable Energy (SF4RE) of the Development for Renewable Energy Applications Mainstreaming and Market Sustainability (DREAMS) Project.

The Iloilo Provincial Government showed the pathway among LGUs on how to invest in RE applications at the local level, passing an ordinance on RE called the Renewable Energy Ordinance of 2022 (I-PORE 2022) last September 2022 which mandates the establishment of infrastructure and mechanisms on RE. This also encourages barangays, municipalities, and cities to identify and allocate possible sites for RE investments and provide incentives according to the Provincial Investment Code.

The flagship site is the Iloilo Provincial Hospital in Pototan where 75kW solar PV panels were installed on the rooftop of this 175-bed, level-2 hospital. The Iloilo Provincial Government, assisted by the DREAMS Project, partnered with the Iloilo II Electric Cooperative to implement RE and augment the electricity supply of the said hospital. The DREAMS Project promotes and facilitates the commercialization of renewable energy markets by removing barriers to investments in RE-based power generation projects.

Paz V. Calopiz, Provincial Government Department head, said the power generated from the solar installations assures patients of electricity especially in areas where primary care and immediate treatment are being administered such as emergency rooms, the ICU section for critically ill patients, and other departments such as surgery and pediatrics.

“The solar installations cut down costs dramatically and increase the reliability of electricity for crucial health services,’’ Calopiz said.

Net-metering is also in the plan for this solar power project in Iloilo Provincial Hospital. Net metering allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to sell the electricity they aren’t using back into the grid.

Meanwhile, in Concepcion, Mayor Milliard S. Villanueva lauded their own project with DREAMS. Eight buildings are powered with the help of 80 kWp solar PV and 15kWp Hybrid Grid Solar Battery System installations.

“These solar panels will definitely cut day-to-day energy consumption expenses of the LGU, and because we know that solar power has no emissions during generation and can solve the problem of greenhouse gases, we believe we are doing our part in helping provide solutions to climate change,” said Villanueva.

OIC-Municipal Assessor Jun Constancio said that the solar PV installations are also a big help in addressing the instability of power supply in smaller communities. “Kapag nagflufluctuate ang kuryente, madali ring masira ang mga gamit, so pwede mong i-shut down muna yung power na galing sa distribution line at yung solar mo na muna paganahin mo para safe,” he said.

Other pipeline projects are RE installations in Gigantes Island in Carles, home to at least 800 families. These include solar PV panels in Granada Elementary School and Granada National High School as well as in solar-powered processing appliances for drying and freezing scallops in Gigantes Sur.

“Masyadong mahal ang binabayaran namin sa kuryente dito sa isla, mas mataas keysa sa mainland. Kaya napakalaking tulong nitong solar panels, araw lang ang puhunan,” explained Giganted island barangay captain Roberto Pestaño.

Lourdes Alarde, officer-in-charge and head teacher III of Granada Elementary School, said savings from solar installations will go to the improvement of other school facilities. “We will now have more funds for repairs around the school since we’re frequently hit by typhoons, as well as the improvement of our handwashing facilities and the construction of communal comfort rooms for girls,” she said.

Iloilo spearheading transition to RE sources

The Provincial Renewable Energy Plan (I-PREP) is a testament to Iloilo Province’s commitment to renewable energy.

“I would advise people, especially private individuals, private companies, and LGUs to use solar energy,” Siegfredo “Onting” A. Betita, Mayor of Carles, urged. “At first the investment is big, but in the long run you can have a very good supply of energy and that will not damage your equipment because of power shortage. It also emits no pollution. Time will also come that fossil fuels will run out, and through renewable energy we can have an alternative source of energy.”

DREAMS pushes for local RE investments by accelerating the deployment of RE systems and supporting local capability to innovate, create, operate, and maintain RE facilities. It also aims to expand RE shares in the country and demonstrate non-power applications of RE.