After years of enduring life without power, a remote island village in Taytay town now enjoys round-the-clock electricity, helping locals to engage in community enterprise and improve their living condition.
The Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc. (PSFI) on Saturday inaugurated a power generation project in Barangay Baras, an off-grid fishing community some 30-minute boat ride away from the mainland.
Around 884 people or 194 households in Bgy. Baras will benefit from the micro-grid project equipped with a 15-kilowatt solar array and a 33 kVA diesel-fed backup generator for cloudy, rainy days. The hybrid power system will also energize their barangay hall, health clinic, day care center, elementary school, and plaza.
Through the Save, Invest, Nurture Access to Green energy (SINAG) program, PSFI brought the Access to Energy (A2E) project to indigenous people communities with no immediate prospects of being connected to any power grid.
The A2E project, funded by the Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX), helps rural villages in the growth of their community enterprise, development of livelihood, improvement of basic health services, and enhancement of education.
“In the next 10 years, Baras could not be energized by Paleco (Palawan Electric Cooperative), and more than 80% of residents here are Tagbanuas. Of all the far-flung communities, Baras is one of the many that are left behind when it comes to receiving electrification projects,” SINAG Senior Program Officer Antero Rebueno told Palawan News.
“Their fish catch can now be preserved in freezers, their school can soon have computers, and those who weave mats and make roofing materials can work even at night,” Rebueno said.
To ensure the facility’s sustainability, PSFI formed and trained the Baras Electric Solar Association (BESA) that will oversee its operation and maintenance.
“They have a monthly collection from their members. They can use that for maintenance. Also, we trained 30 individuals on basic electrical installation and maintenance to do troubleshooting if needed,” Rebueno added.
BESA President Chita Gonzales in a program shortly after the ceremonial switch-on solicited support from her constituents for the continuous success of the project.
“This greatly helps especially our schooling children and also those generations who’ll follow them, so I urge you to help us in ensuring it would be up and running even in the years to come,” she said.
Baras is the fifth to have benefitted from the A2E project, which was piloted in a Batak indigenous community in Sitio Kalakwasan, Bgy. Tanabag, Puerto Princesa City. By 2024, Rebueno said the A2E project expects to power up 15 more off-grid IP communities across the province.