Panay gets new power from wind plant

The Nabas Wind Power Project in Malay, Aklan. Photo by PetroWind Energy Inc.

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

A new clean energy has been added to Panay Island after the Yuchengco-led PetroWind Energy Inc. (PWEI) started exporting power from the 13.2-megawatt Nabas Phase-2 wind power project in Nabas, Aklan on April 4.

The start of the export follows approval from the Independent Energy Market Operator of the Philippines on April 3 and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines on April 4.

“We are pleased with the start of the commissioning of the Nabas wind power project Phase 2 as it delivers much-needed power to the Panay sub-grid. This is the newest power station added to the system since the January 2, 2024 grid blackout,” said Department of Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla in a statement.

Lotilla further emphasized the commissioning “to boost the country’s clean and renewable energy capacity in sustaining long-term economic growth particularly in northern Panay and Boracay.”

The first power exported to the grid was supplied by the first three 2.2 megawatts (MW) Vestas wind turbine generators.

The Phase 2 expansion is the second wind power unit of PWEI and the sixth renewable energy generating plant of PetroGreen Energy Corporation (PGEC).

It can be recalled that in February 2023, the Development Bank of the Philippines provided a P1.8 Billion loan to PWEI to partially fund the development and construction of the project.

“In supplying much-needed electricity to Panay communities, we also look forward to the revenue stream from this investment,” said PGEC President F.G. Delfin Jr.

Phase 2 of the project is expected to increase the energy production capacity of the Nabas wind power project from 36 MW to 50 MW.

Environmental concerns raised

The expansion of the Nabas wind power project, however, faced protests from locals who cited the potential dangers it poses to the Nabaoy River watershed.

The Nabaoy watershed holds a Class A classification by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and serves as the primary source of potable water supply for the mainland community of Malay, Aklan, and Boracay Island.

On March 27, residents of Nabao and members of the Nabaoy Environmental Defenders staged a protest in front of the legislative hall just before the Sangguniang Bayan of Malay held its regular session.

Despite Nabaoy not being included as a beneficiary of the expansion, locals expressed concerns about the likelihood of heavy siltation in the area from the expansion project.

Protesters pointed out the extensive siltation that led to the discoloration of the Napaan River Watershed during the initial phase of the wind plant.

It can be noted that Phase 2 of the project will see the addition of six wind turbine generators to be erected in Pawa and Napaan, alongside the existing 18 turbines of Phase 1.

With this, locals are pushing for the relocation of the three remaining turbines of Phase 2 far from the Nabaoy watershed.

PWEI however maintained that it secured all necessary permits from the DENR and other national regulatory agencies before commencing Phase 2 construction.

It further emphasizes that it implements a proactive four-pronged environmental program aimed at managing its impact to the environment and communities as part of its sustainability framework.

“These efforts were recognized by DENR in 2016, through a letter of commendation citing PWEI’s mitigation measures as [a] model for other project developers in Aklan. Together with the DENR, Protected Area Management Bureau, and other stakeholders, PWEI also conducts thorough and regular environmental monitoring,” the company said.

PWEI has invested over P175 million in bioengineering solutions for its ridge-to-river rehabilitation program.