The SREC hybrid power project is a first in the country.

Residents and businesses at Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan can expect a brighter celebration of the Christmas season with the formal inauguration on Thursday of the 2.6-megawatt first hybrid power plant that aims to provide 24/7 electricity to the area that is home to the Puerto Princesa Underground River.

The first government-approved hybrid power plant of the Sabang Renewable Energy Corporation (SREC) has a micro-grid to provide electricity to household and business off-takers in Sabang. It is a joint venture project among Vivant Corporation, WEnergy Global, and Gigawatt Power, Inc.

It has a solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant of 1.4 mega-watt peaks (mwp) and a durable battery pack of a 2.3-megawatt-hour (mwh), combined with 1.2 megawatts diesel generators, and a 14-circuit kilometer of Smart Grid distribution facility that can supply power to 10 public buildings, 18 small businesses, 19 hotels and restaurants, and 583 households.

The joint venture partners said aside from providing clean power, the project is also hoping to achieve sustainable growth through an uninterrupted power supply that can create significant impacts on residents and businesses while at the same time protecting the ecosystem in the concession area.

In his speech, Puerto Princesa mayor Lucilo Bayron said the hybrid power plant is another milestone in Sabang, the home of the underground river and a frequented tourist destination.

“I am so happy because finally, we have inaugurated the SREC hybrid power project that is a first in the country. I am very happy that their partners did not give up. It is seven years of long waiting, but now they’re already connecting electricity to the customers in Brgy. Cabayugan and maybe in the near future, starting from Brgy. Tagabinet, maybe to Buenavista,” he said.

Bayron said it is a major development, particularly to Sabang residents who have lived without electricity for a long time.

He said SREC, the qualified third party operator, should prepare because a lot of people will be eager to avail of the electricity offered.

Atem Ramsundersingh, WEnergy Global chief executive officer and SREC director, said the project is not an easy feat, taking seven years to realize.

“Sabang project had a long journey — almost 7 years. People were telling us to give up and walk away but we said no, it is our dream because we believe in the We Energy, WE stands for us and energy stands for the energy that connects all of us,” he said.

Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO), one of the partners of the SREC in the operation of the power plant, said its inauguration is “very timely and appropriate” as the demand for power in the community continues to increase.

Jeffrey Tan-Endriga, chairman of the board of directors of the power coop, said the use of renewable energy will help address the problem of the city still having unenergized homes.

Department of Energy (DOE) Sec. Alfonso Cusi, who was the special guest in the event, said they have high hopes that the SREC can energize 100 percent of households in the country.

“There is something like around 25 million households all over the country and around 13 million is still unenergized. As of now, 96.3 percent are energized and the balance is what we should work for. In 2015-2016, it is about only 90 percent and we’ve worked it out to 96.3 percent. Our target is by 2022, before the end of the administration, we will be able to energize all the household, and this project, kasama ang renewable energy project,” he said.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, on the other hand, said he attended the inauguration to witness the switch-on ceremony because he believes that the project can be done in the rest of the country.

“I came here to witness for myself the first hybrid electricity project under the QTP program and I wanted to see it for myself because I believe that if Sabang can do it, the rest of the country can do it. There is no reason for the other areas to have no electricity and there is no reason for other electric coops not to engage in this kind of project,” he said.

He also mentioned that as of now they are working on a bill regarding micro-grid development in the Senate to propagate it in the Philippines.

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Jayra Joyce Cañete Taboada handles the law and order and the science and education beats. She is also a licensed professional teacher.