By Roel Amazona
NAVAL, Biliran – The full operation of PHP15.21-million Higatangan micro grid project will bring more opportunities to this popular tourist island destination, National Electrification Administration Administrator Edgardo Masongsong said.
During the ceremonial switch-on in Higatangan Island on Friday, Masongsong said the non-stop power supply will mean economic opportunity as it opens the door for businessmen to invest in this island-destination.
“Few investors are putting up business in this island because on the problem on the power supply, but now that electricity is here, we expect more businessmen to come in and invest on the island particularly in the tourism-related establishment to cater local and foreign tourist,” Magsongsong said.
The micro grid project was pushed through the donation of South Korean government and ELT Co. Ltd such as 10-kilowatt (KW) power solar panel photovoltaic, 50-KW power control system, 50-kilovolt diesel generator, and 20-KWH plus 16-KWH extra energy storage system.
Biliran Electric Cooperative (Bileco) counterpart was to purchase the lot for the micro-grid.
Magsongsong added that improving the life of every Filipino is among the main goals of the present administration, under its Ambisyon Natin 2040 that represents the collective long-term vision and aspirations of the Filipino people for themselves and for the country in the next 25 years.
This goal of the national government is in line with the target of an electric cooperative that is rural electrification to spur rural development.
Higatangan Island is famous among tourists for its shifting sand bar. The island is surrounded by white sand beaches and its water is ideal for swimming snorkeling and diving. There is also a portion of the island with rock formations, which is best site for cliff diving.
Since 2006, all 132 villages in Biliran province are already energized with Mabini and Legaspi in Higatangan as the last energized village, however, electricity supply is only available from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on the island.
Legaspi village chief Milluh Roble said the microgrid is an answer to their plea for a stable power supply.
“As the leader of the village, let me say thank you in behalf of the constituents for this project that will give us a wonderful opportunity,” Roble said.
Mabini village chief Rosalie Arevalo hopes that when the demand for electricity supply increases, the proposal to provide a power source to the island through underwater cable will be realized.
The full energization of Higatangan excites Rosita Salazar, caretaker of Higatangan Island Beach Resort.
“We have a website were tourist can book online. Since there is no electricity in the island, the booking is checked online by the owner who lives in Canada then she would call or send a message to us through our mobile phone if there is a reservation,” Salazar told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Salazar added that electricity is a vital part of their operation because it ensures that the resort will have enough water supplies that their guests need.
The availability of 24-hour electricity on the island will not only benefit businesses but even schools and students, according to residents.
At the campus of Fidel M Limpiado Sr. National High School, parents, teachers and students were also happy to the good news of having an uninterrupted power supply.
Lea Monette Catandihan, a mother of an elementary and a high school student, said electricity is an important aspect in the study of life her children.
“Without electricity, how can my child charge her mobile phone when she needs to do research online?” asked Catandihan who owns a small store near the school campus.
“Aside from researching, we can review our lesson anytime of the night, especially during exams if there is electricity,” added Lea Baquilar, a Grade 10 student.
Computer Laboratory in-charge Rudy Magdalaga said without electricity, the students of the only secondary school in Higatangan are deprived to learn basic knowledge in computer.
Although the school has a generator set, its power is not enough for the use of 24 computer sets at the school’s laboratory.
The generator set is only used when it is necessary or when the students really need to use the computer.
“Of the 24 computers that we have, we are only using 12 and not all students can use the computers, they must share one computer per three students,” Magdalaga said.
“The gap between mainland students and the island students is very far when it comes to computer usage. Some of the students still don’t know how to turn on computers,” Magdalaga added.
Although the ceremonial switch-on is already done, the island will continue to have a five-hour power supply daily due to technical issues on the micro grid equipment.
Korean experts will arrive next month to correct the problem for the island residents to finally experience the 24-hour power supply. (PNA)