Taytay boat-maker feels the ‘power’ from ‘SINAG’ micro-grid project

A boat maker from Sitio Binaluan, Taytay benefits from the livelihood support extended by Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI).

Bernardo Montilla, a father of six and a 43-year-old resident of a coastal village in Taytay, said the micro-grid alternative energy project under the Save, Invest, Nurture Access to Green Energy (SINAG) provided by the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI), changed his life and his family.  Montilla, who dwells in Sitio Binaluan in Liminancong, Taytay town told Palawan News that the project increased the productivity of his boat-building business.  Montilla has been making boats for 15 years using no electricity and mainly relied only upon manual labor.

“Malaki pong tulong ‘yong Shell sa amin. ‘Yong nagsimula [ako sa pagagawa ng bangka], manu-mano pa ako, [samantalang] ngayon ang gamit natin [ay] high-tech na, mga idinadaan na natin sa kuryente. Malaki pong bagay ‘yon kesa sa mag-manu-mano ako,” Montilla said.

Now using electrical tools powered from the micro-grid electrification system of PSFI, Montilla said he no longer takes more than one month to complete a boat. He said with electricity from the micro-grid, his work just takes him less than a month.

PSFI Palawan program manager Marvi Trudeau said the people of Binaluan, who lives in a remote location, are unlikely to be rendered power by the government or by any commercial firms within the next five-to-10 years.

In 2016, PSFI brought to Montilla’s community the micro-grid alternative energy project that uses a combination of a 15-kilowatt solar array, five-kilowatt wind turbine, and a 33-kilovolt-ampere (kVA) diesel generator set prepared to support the electrical provisions for the community in times of low solar and wind storage, Trudeau said.

The energy gathered from the solar array and wind turbine is then stored in a 48,000-ampere-hour (AH) batteries, she added.

Montilla added he now earns extra since he is able to accept more clients.

“Mas maganda ngayon, mas mabilis tapos maraming nagpapagawa kasi anytime ang kuryente. Ngayon marami talaga [ang nagpapagawa], hindi ako mabakante na ng trabaho… ‘yon na rin ang tanging ibinubuhay ko sa pamilya ko, ‘yon na lang rin ang tanging paraan,” he said.

Montilla pointed out that he used to work with a three kilovolt-ampere (kVA) small generator worth P4,000 a month just to finish a boat.

Today, through the alternative energy project of PSFI, Montilla is only paying a maximum of P600 a month to the Binaluan Electric Association (BEA) not only for the electric consumption of his power tools but for his entire household use.

“Three hundred po ang minimum, pasawa na [sa gamit ng kuryente], araw-gabi. Kaya hindi ko na ginamit ang generator ko kasi malaki ang gastos, hindi katulad dito sa Shell. Talagang malaking bagay ang Shell,” Montilla said.

Montilla said he is now working on five big boats which he expects to complete in March next year.

One boat costs P30,000 to P200,000 to complete, depending on its size. However, the customer pays for all the expenses, he explained.

His minimum wage as a laborer is P20,000 per one completed boat, he added.

Montilla vowed to help and assume proper responsibility in their association to keep the sustainability of the project.

“Pangangalagaan namin ‘yong sistema. Hangga’t maari pangangalagaan namin unang-una sa mga maintenance, magtu-tulungan kami… alang-alang sa amin ‘yon, hindi lang sa isang tao [kundi] lahat kami makikinabang,” he said.

Earlier, Antero Rebueno, PSFI-A2E senior project officer said the minimum monthly electric bill a household is required to pay to their association is P300.

The BEA he explained collects the payment to be saved for their community’s future funds needed in purchasing new batteries for the system.

This micro-grid project has already been providing electricity to more than 500 IP residents of Binaluan, giving power to the community of 72 houses, a school building with four classrooms, church, daycare center, plaza stage, two purok centers, street lights, and a sitio basketball court.

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