By Leilanie Adriano, VERA Files
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte---Steady winds make Caparispisan village in this northern most part of Ilocos Norte town a favorite destination of thrill-seeking foreign and domestic tourists who love to play with the waves while kite surfing.
And, soon, tourists can look forward to an added attraction: windmills--- just like those in neighboring Bangui wind farm that have lured thousands of people to the area for ‘selfie’ or photo ops.
On the sprawling green hills of this windy village will soon rise an 81-megawatt (MW) wind power farm with at least 32 wind turbines and having double the strength of the 33MW Bangui wind power plant.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has given the Northern Luzon UPC Asia Corporation (NLUPC) the go-signal to construct the $220-M wind project.
The NLUPC---a joint venture of Ayala Corporation’s AC Energy Holdings, Inc. (ACEHI), UPC Renewables, and Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure (PINAI) --- has tapped Siemens Wind Power A/S and Siemens Inc. for the supply and installation of the project’s wind turbines.
“The initial phase of the project is expected to be connected to the grid by June 2014,” Energy Assistant Secretary Daniel Ariaso Sr. Said at the recent groundbreaking ceremony.
While welcoming independent power producers eager to develop wind farms here, Ilocos Norte Gov. Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” Marcos told renewable energy stakeholders to help Ilocanos understand that the impact of green energy here may not be felt outright.
“I hope you understand that we are on your side. We welcome renewable energy. It’s clean and green. However, due to experiences in the past when we were being asked, ‘Why is it that our electric bill is not going lower?’ [I appeal to you to] help us explain to our constituents by giving us facts such as the specific break down of prices, data costing and the benefits of energy campaign,” Marcos said.
Despite the booming tourism industry in Pagudpud that boasts of crystal clear beaches, waterfalls, bat caves and other natural resources, Marcos said that Pagudpud remains one of the poorest municipalities in Ilocos Norte.
Village chairwoman Lovella Garvida said the establishment of a wind power farm in sitio Ayoyo in Caparispisan, which is expected to become operational by September next year, is a welcome development. “We expect more jobs and livelihood to be generated with the construction of the wind farm,” she said.
This early, Garvida said that the company has already started helping her barangay by training and hiring several mason, carpenters and other skilled workers in the village for the repair and maintenance of their bridge including expansion of roads going to the project site. Also, they have started employing locals to assist them throughout the implementation of the project.
Aside from the 33-MW Bangui wind farm situated along the shoreline of Bangui bay, other renewable energy players have ongoing wind and solar projects in the municipalities of Burgos, Pasuquin,Vintar, Currimao and Badoc, Ilocos Norte.
The Bangui windmills, the first in Southeast Asia, constitute one of the main sources of electricity in the province and have become a tourist attraction in the province.
With the continued growth of renewable energy in this northern gateway of Luzon, Ariaso said host communities of renewable energy will eventually enjoy both direct and indirect benefits of the clean and green project since “the cost will come down eventually over time.”
For local residents here, the wind that blows freely and being harnessed by independent power producers could just have a significant impact on their lives should there be an equal and fair distribution of what makes it truly essential, that is, clean air nurturing everyone.
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true”.)