Meralco taps solar power in energizing Isla Verde

By Alena Mae S. Flores – February 15, 2019 at 08:20 pm

Manila Electric Co., the biggest retailer of electricity, is switching on its first 32-kilowatt solar micro grid facility in Isla Verde in Batangas province as part of a commitment to achieve total electrification in the franchise area.

The Batangas City local government unit, the United States Agency for International Development and Meralco collaborated in the construction of the solar panel micro-grid and 192-kilowatt hour battery storage facility.

The project was formally switched on Friday after leasing agreements were finalized and secured approval from the Energy Regulatory Commission.

“This is the fulfillment of our promise to provide electric service to the people of Isla Verde,” said Meralco senior vice president and head of networks Ronnie Aperocho, who led the Meralco team.

The project is Meralco’s first solar microgrid–small-scale power grids that can be operated independently from the country’s interconnected network of power transmission facilities.“The project was intentionally pursued using green energy, and with a safe and sustainable supply of power, another Batangas destination will be given the opportunity to further develop. We are happy to be of help in uplifting the lives of everyone in the island,” said Aperocho.

The project supports the distribution utility’s initiatives toward using more sustainable energy sources and highlights efforts on rural electrification, a point of focus by President Rodrigo Duterte, who has said he wanted to put a stop to hurdles in the electrification of rural areas.

The project provides electricity to an initial 30 households.

Isla Verde is surrounded by waters and situated six kilometers from Luzon. It is accessible only through a one-and-a-half-hour boat ride, making it a challenge to connect with the mainland power grid.

Local residents for years have been subsisting on diesel generator sets from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. for electricity.

The island is now a magnet to foreign visitors and a haven for divers. But its development is stunted as tourism infrastructure cannot be fully realized without adequate power.