Hosts of RE projects are ‘investment magnets’

Shadz Loresco
Renewable energy projects in Ilocos Norte, Batangas, Leyte and Misamis Oriental create jobs, boost productivity

INVESTOR CONFIDENCE. Renewable energy projects, like wind, inspire other investors to set up shop in host provinces. Photo by Michael Josh Villanueva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Four local governments who host renewable energy (RE) projects shared how these inspired the confidence of other investors.

Ilocos Norte, Batangas, Leyte (particularly the Municipality of Kananga) and Misamis Oriental (Villanueva) call themselves “investor magnets.”

In the joint energy forum of the national government and local government units (LGUs) on Friday, September 6, leaders and representatives from the 4 provinces outlined their various RE or green projects, as well as ways these have curbed unemployment, boosted productivity and increased capital inflow in their respective local communities.

Ilocos Norte

Board Member Mariano Marcos II said that “Ilocos Norte [has been] open for RE businesses” with its strong supply of wind, water and sun.

Back in the ’90s during the term of then-Governor Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who established the process map for power plant construction in Ilocos Norte, the provincial seat erected Northwind in Bangui, the first and only wind farm in the country whose capacity reaches 20 to 24.75 megawatts (MW).

Not long after, the country’s oldest conglomerate Ayala Corp group bought over 50% stake into the Northwind, Mariano shared. In recent years, foreign and local investors have been pouring millions into this part of the north.

Comprising two cities and 21 municipalities, the province now boasts of $570 million worth of investments upon entry of these private entities:

  • * Mirae Asia Energy Corp. – a $50-million, 20-MW solar farm in Curimao, which broke ground in Nov 2012
  • * The privatized, now Lopez-controlled Energy Development Corp. – a $300-million, 87-MW wind farm in Burgos, Apr 2013
  • * Northern Luzon UPC Asia Corp. – a $220-million, 81-MW wind farm in Pagudpud, Sept 2013

Mariano stressed that they are planning to attract more investors by promoting ease of doing business, hiring local (such as skilled graduates from local colleges), maintaining swift project endorsements and providing tax incentives, among others.

“We [make sure] we have no barriers for our investments,” he added.

Batangas

A first-class province, Batangas is one of the most popular tourist destinations near Metro Manila.

Provincial Engineer Nerio Ronquillo shared how they have maximized the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) monetary benefits to become a magnet to more clean energy investments.

Improved road condition, floodway system, accessibility for residents of rural areas and watershed management are among the results of environmental budget allocations to socially- and power-driven projects.

  • * Power plants in the province are:
  • * 600-MW Calaca coal power plant, DMCI Holdings Inc.
  • * 1,000-MW Sta. Rita natural gas-fired power plant, First Gas Power Corp.
  • * 1,200-MW Ilijan combined-cycle power plant, National Power Corp.
  • * 458.53-MW Mak-ban geothermal power plant, Aboitiz Power Renewables, Inc.

Leyte

Kananga in the northwestern part of Leyte has lessons and stories to share on hosting geothermal energy.

“Kananga is the host municipality of more than 701-MW Leyte geothermal production field (LGPF), Leyte geothermal business units (LGBUs), 5 geothermal power plants and 4 optimization power plants,” said Mayor Elmer C. Codilla.

The 1995 Kananga Electrification and Energy Cost Subsidy Program (KEESCSP) has supplied Kananga residents subsidy of P3/kilowatt (kw) and not exceeding P100/kw per month (residents with existing power access), or with electrical materials enough to energize their house… free of charge (residents without electricity).

In 2010, only 9 out of 41 barangays remain unenergized, noted Codilla.

Misamis Oriental

Villanueva in the northern part of Mindanao is “a very young municipality… founded in 1962,” said Villanueva’s Center for Environmental Concerns officer Norman A. Ricacho.

“Endowed with good underground water supply and being strategically connected to shipping routes of ocean vessels and with deep embayments that make it a fine natural harbor, Villanueva is naturally an attractive destination for commerce and industries,” shared Ricacho.

Villanueva is the host municipality of Mindanao’s first and most modern power generating facility called STEAG State Power Inc., which started operations on Nov 15, 2006. Power reserve in the island stabilized from a critical level of 13% to compliant 24% immediately after commissioning.

STEAG’s entry in Villanueva has allowed the gateway of investments to open not only in the area, but also in the region.

Large multinational firms who have also set up shop in Villanueva are:

  • * Coca-Cola – the most advanced manufacturing plant in Mindanao
  • * San Miguel’s B-Meg – feeds production
  • * US-affiliated Cargill Philippines Inc. – expansion of operations
  • * Yan-Yan Foods Int’l. and Amley Foods Corp. – manufacturing plants
  • * Phoenix – largest second depot in Mindanao
  • * National Grid Corp. of the Philippines – modern substation

Filinvest’s P3-billion coal-fired power plant is also set to break ground in Villanueva before yearend.

Villanueva is now among the fastest growing local economies in the Philippines. It hires skilled students and graduates from the local communities, generates jobs and provides social and economic opportunities to further fill its coffers with investments. – Rappler.com

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