Solar power for homes, public schools pushed

SENATE President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has filed a bill ensuring the total electrification of households and public schools  through a reliable and efficient solar energy system.

Recto’s Senate Bill No. 1078 aims for the electrification of missionary areas, specifically the identified “unelectrified” households and public schools in the far-flung areas of the country.

Recto is eyeing the government’s share from the proceeds of the Malampaya Natural Gas Project to fund the installation of solar energy systems in the covered public schools and households.

Of the estimated total 22.7 million households in the country as of 2017, Recto said 2.36 million have no access to electricity while 5,743 out of the total 45,752 public schools remain off-grid based on the 2016 status report of the Department of Education (DepEd).

“Lack of electricity in public schools creates considerable obstacles towards digital literacy because the students have no access to computers and other digital equipment,” he said.

“Solar energy is the most abundant renewable energy (RE) resource that can be installed to generate power at a faster rate than fossil fuel-based power plants. Solar energy systems also generate substantial savings versus fossil-fuelled power plants with high transport and long distance hauling costs for their feed stocks,” the senator added.

Recto expressed belief that the measure will pave for the electrification of all missionary areas in the country by 2022.

The measure is in line with the DepEd’s mission to spread digital literacy and equal opportunity in education around the country.

Likewise, it will help the government realize the target RE utilization of 15,304 megawatts (MW) in 2030, Recto said.

Currently, the RE utilization is only at 5,438 MW.

Under the measure, the Department of Energy (DOE) will be mandated to coordinate with the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the National Power Corporation (NPC) to provide electric services in identified unelectrified households.

Recto’s bill also urges the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), in coordination with the Deped and the DOE, to construct the solar energy system in identified unelectrified public schools.

As to the funding source, the senator said the amount necessary for the implementation of the measure shall be charged against any remaining and future proceeds of the net national government share from the Malampaya Fund under the special account in the general fund after deducting the P208 billion allocated for the payment of stranded contract costs and stranded debts.

At least 90 percent of the fund shall be allocated for the electrification of identified unelectrified households while the remaining 10 percent shall be for the installation of solar energy systems in public schools.