BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
A study of think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) and grassroots movement REpower Negros showed the potential Negros Island to serve as a starting point for the transformation of the country’s power sector due to its unique power landscape.
The groups launched its study “REpower Negros: A Scoping Study of Negros Island’s Power Sector Transformation” in a webinar yesterday.
The study was a result of a series of consultations with experts and Negrosanon power stakeholders spanning nearly a year. It provides scientific and policy research on the Negros power sector condition, looks at challenges, and offers concrete recommendations towards a full transition to clean and affordable energy.
Avril De Torres, lead researcher and CEED Research, Policy and Law head, said the study has found that the vision of a 100 percent renewable energy-powered Negros is indeed possible.
“The combination of local policies favoring renewables, upcoming expiration of coal power supply agreements, diverse renewable energy installed and a strong movement supporting renewable energy development make Negros Island a ‘hopespot’ for the first power transformation in the country,” De Torres said.
She added that this would require Negros to address existing contradictions that allow coal and other fossil fuels to maintain a foothold on the island.
Negros Occidental and Oriental boast an impressive 95 percent renewable energy share in its installed capacity mix, but Negrosanons are unable to benefit from the cheap and clean electricity that the island produces as 73 to 80 percent of the power it contracts is largely from coal and fossil fuel plants outside Negros, she said.
“With this study, we hope to contribute to the power transformation of Negros by empowering Negrosanons to take an active role in ensuring that local energy planning and implementation is sustainable and democratic,” she added.
San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, a long-time clean energy advocate, said the publication of this research could not have come at a better time as the current climate crisis and pandemic made the transition to clean renewable energy all the more urgent.
“We hope this study would strengthen efforts for the stewardship of our common home and our care for one another, and spark that hope in and beyond Negros that ending the destruction caused by coal and fossil fuels is possible,” he said.
Krishna Ariola, lead convenor of Youth for Climate Hope, said the shift to renewables in Negros is not only possible but an inevitable reality.
Ariola said that the publication of the study is but part of many steps the groups will take in ensuring that Negros preserves its deeply rooted and successful history of championing sustainable and people-centered development.
“The people of Negros have fought for a coal-free province for two decades, and the youth of today will not let their struggle be in vain,” she said.
Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya said talks on transition to renewable energy still gather baffling opposition despite the climate change.
He said it is about time to transition to RE and prove the naysayers that it is the way to go to ensure sustainable development and to save what is left of the world.*