By Myrna M. Velasco
State-run National Power Corporation (NPC) is seeking P34 billion budget for year 2020 so it can accelerate energization and ensure the provision of round-the-clock electricity service on its covered domains – chiefly in the off-grids and far-flung areas.
NPC President and CEO Pio J. Benavidez indicated that the lion’s share of next year’s allocation being sought by the power firm will be for the deployment of diesel generating units at the island-grids.
The energization strategy for these areas, according to the NPC chief executive, shall start with the diesel units to be followed by the deployment of hybrid technology with preference for solar installation.
“We are seeking P34-billion budget next year – bulk of that will go to diesel units to be deployed in off-grid areas. We have to make sure that we’ll have power first in an area, then we go hybrid,” Benavidez said.
For the rollout of hybrid technologies, the NPC chief executive noted that such shall be an integrated diesel-solar-battery storage solution for the jurisdictions that are placed under NPC’s Small Power Utilities Group (NPC-SPUG).
At this stage, Benavidez stressed, solar is the renewable energy technology of choice because other options like wind farms still have some hurdles on whether such resource could be viable in certain areas or not.
Beyond addressing technology, Benavidez asserted that another major item in the company’s budget will be for fuel procurement – set at P8.1 billion next year, which is slightly higher than the P7.98 billion it sought this 2019.
The hybrid system at these off-grid areas had already been outlined by the company – and several projects are now advancing including those in Limasawa in Leyte, then the other island-grids in Palawan, Masbate, Suquijor and Mindoro, among others.
Based on its presentation in a budget hearing in the Senate, NPC is targeting 41 plants next year for SPUG areas with an aggregate capacity 4.57 megawatts.