Cheap, eco-friendly electricity for the Philippines

Published September 25, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Floro L. Mercene
Floro L. Mercene

Filipino start-up, Solar Para sa Bayan Corp. (SPSB), seeking to provide a cheap, environment-friendly and reliable solution to electrify out-of-the-grid places.

This is in line with the total electrification for the country by 2022, in keeping with President Duterte’s inclusive growth agenda.

SPSB was founded by Leandro Leviste, a young entrepreneur with proven track record in renewable energy development, particularly in the manufacture of solar mini-grids. He owns Solar Philippines, Southeast Asia’s largest integrated solar developer, investor, manufacturer and engineering, procurement and construction proponent. The company’s  800-megawatt solar panel factory employs over 800 people.

Solar Philippines has about 400 MW projects, others in operation or under construction and now supplies Meralco with the cheapest solar power in Southeast Asia at P2.99 per kwh, or almost 50 percent below Meralco’s all-in cost of generation.

Leviste’s goal is to provide electric power to half a million inhabitants of  Mindoro, Palawan, Masbate, Batangas, Quezon, Aurora, Cagayan, Isabela, Negros, Misamis, Davao. These places want cheap electricity through the Solar Battery Mini-grids at zero cost to the government.

LGUs, the business community, and consumers wants the speedy passage of congressional measures to provide SPSB a franchise to produce cheap electricity to poorly served communities.

House Bill 8013 authored by Deputy Speaker Arthur Yap, and HB 8015 jointly filed by Rep. Maria Carmen Zamora  and Yap–both seek to grant a 25-year franchise to SPSB “to construct, install, establish, operate, and maintain distributable power technologies and minigrid systems throughout the Philippines to improve access to sustainable energy.”

The bills have been consolidated and substituted by HB 8179 and was reported for first reading before the House plenary last Sept. 4. The final committee report on HB 8179 that was approved last Sept. 3 by the House Committee on Legislative Franchises chaired by Palawan Rep.  Franz Alvarez, and supported by 33 lawmakers.

Unlike traditional utilities that receive subsidies of over P30 billion a year,  the SPSB’s mini-grids is a private enterprise that does not receive subsidies from the government.

Let’s hope the SPSB is allowed to provide cheap, clean,  24/7 electricity to remote barangays and those outside of the grid.