October 3, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has welcomed the franchise application of Solar Para Sa Bayan Corp. (SPSB) to hasten and help achieve the government’s goal of 100% electrification and affordable, reliable electricity for all Filipinos by 2022.
“I want this to be very clear, the Solar Para sa Bayan [franchise] that is being filed, to me that is a positive disruptive activity. DOE’s (Department of Energy) position is we rethink our mindset about coops. What are the function of coops, they have a franchise in their respective areas. Their franchises goes with it the responsibilities. They have to energize their entire franchise area,” Cusi said.
Solar Para Sa Bayan has applied for a franchise to more efficiently extend its services to other parts of the Philippines that want alternative choices for electric service, and help DOE achieve its goal of 100% electrification and affordable, reliable electricity for all Filipinos by 2022.
“We cannot let Filipinos wait forever; there are efficient cooperatives, there are inefficient cooperatives, are we going to allow Filipinos to suffer because of inefficient cooperatives? I don’t think that is right,” he said.
Cusi said Solar Para Sa Bayan’s move is a “positive disruptive development.”
“Those who mention exclusivity must be willing to take that responsibility. [For example] Pasay is yours, and you are not willing to take that responsibility, then I will remove it from you,” Cusi said.
“To me that is good because why, let’s evaluate our mindset on how we are going to achieve electrification,” Cusi said, adding that if the electric cooperatives cannot do it, “somebody will do it.”
“I am not against cooperatives, I am against poor performance, there are good coops, good performers, but for those not performing, wake up and do your job because people cannot wait in the dark,” Cusi said.
Solar Para Sa Bayan announced last month it is bringing 24/7 power to 12 towns in provinces including Mindoro, Palawan, Masbate, Cagayan, Aurora, to benefit 200,000 Filipinos, the first time so many will get electricity at zero cost to government.
Two of these provinces, Aurora and Cagayan, were among the worst affected by Typhoon Ompong.
In Dingalan, Aurora, evacuation centers were powered by SPSB’s Minigrid system, ensuring the town center was energized even at the height of the storm and helping the town achieve zero casualties.
Even if the town is connected to the national grid and is only 4 hours from Metro Manila, Dingalan has suffered decades of worse outages and higher cost electricity than even island municipalities.
“We thank Solar Para Sa Bayan for fulfilling the dream of Dingaleños, by solving our power crisis and reducing the cost of electricity. This is a great help for a town like ours to achieve a stronger economy and better life for our people,” said Dingalan Mayor Shierwin Taay.
In Calayan, Cagayan, where cellphone signal has yet to be restored, SPSB has established a Minigrid to bring 24/7 power for the first time in the town’s history, to help the town recover from the typhoon’s devastation.
Solar Para Sa Bayan is now working to extend its services to more towns in Cagayan where the local electric utility has not yet been able to restore power since the typhoon hit two weeks ago.
In Claveria, Masbate, a municipality of over 45,000 people that is this week receiving 24/7 power for the first time in its history, Mayor Froilan Andueza said.