(NEWS FEATURE) Why not build a wind farm outside Ilocos Norte?

January 29, 2016 7:33 am 

By Juzel L. Danganan

MANILA, Jan. 27 (PNA) — Ilocos Norte, a historic city, is not only known for its old churches, but also for its many wind farms — as it hosts three projects with a total power generation of 249 megawatts (MWs).

Despite the high commercial viability of a wind project to be built in Ilocos Norte, a head of a renewable energy firm and a former Energy secretary switched their initial plan to develop a wind farm in the area and sought another location.

Five years later, Alternergy Wind One Corp. succeeded in seeking an area — not only outside Ilocos Norte — but very near Metro Manila, where its 27 wind turbines with a capacity of 2 MWs each stood, similar to a 33-storey building.

”It took us a while. We were pleasantly surprised that the wind by the lake was good, because of the wind corridor,” Alternergy Wind One Corp. president and chief executive officer Vincent S. Perez told reporters.

Just 58 kilometers and a driving time of 1 hour and 50 minutes away from Metro Manila, without the traffic, the closest wind farm was built in Brgy. Halayhayin, Pililla, Rizal on a 60-hectare mountain top.

The former Energy secretary revealed the move stemmed from the uncertainty on the transmission line in Ilocos Norte, whether it could transfer the power from their prospect wind farm to the Luzon grid.

"We were originally in Bangui, but we felt like there might be a congestion there due to the multiple wind farms. So we decided to come down a little bit closer to the power load, because it’s really quite close,” he said.

The decision made a huge difference since after its testing and commissioning, the 54-MW Pililla Wind Farm has successfully passed of its power supply to the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) since June 9, 2015 — without any transmission line constraints.

"We want to be able to sell electricity, not generate undistributed energy, so that’s why we decided to relocate here," he stressed.

It had less constraints compared to some wind projects in Ilocos Norte despite winning the second round of wind Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) subsidy of Php 7.40 per kilowattthour (kWh), compared to the first FiT granted projects with a rate of Php 8.49 per kWh.

With Alternergy Wind One Corp. beating other firms in entirely supplying its capacity to the Luzon grid, the firm likely had higher revenues than other firms as FiT granted projects are only paid for their exact generation and without the required transmission line the firms were unable to pass their power.

However, its decision to move against the tide did not only benefit the firm with profit, but also the host community and province — Rizal — as Alternergy's move has put another province hot in the Luzon map aside from Ilocos Norte.

"We were surprised when the wind farm opened, because everyday there's a thousand tourists visiting the province. It's near Metro Manila, so why go for more distance," Rizal Governor Rebecca Ynares told reporters.

Alternergy Wind One Corp. bared entrance to the wind farm is free, but requires coordination with operators.

Offering a change of view, the power plant is also visible from Metro Manila's skyscrapers and other modern buildings, while also visible on days of clear skies from Antipolo and the Laguna lake.

Aside from the tourists visiting the site, Ynares noted the wind farm opening will stir more business opportunities as it will encourage them to purchase goods along the towns preceded by Pililla.

"It will help the towns that are before Pililla, because it will open many business opportunities," the governor said. (PNA)

FPV/JLD

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