Lopez company pushes the envelope in renewable energyBy Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
When the nature of your business is all about going green and ensuring sustainability, it is easy to think you have already done enough for the country.
Energy Development Corp., however, believes otherwise and refuses to stop there.
As the country’s biggest producer of geothermal energy, EDC, as it is, is already helping the country pursue a healthier, more environment friendly low-carbon future by harnessing the country’s indigenous power resources.
Geothermal energy, in particular, has been touted as a clean, renewable and generally sustainable energy source that—because it does not use combustion in the production of electricity—emits significantly lower levels of carbon dioxide as compared to fossil fuel-fired power plants.
However, the Lopez affiliate company also recognizes that in order to be truly sustainable in one’s operations—in this case, power production operations—it has to ensure not only its own operations, but also the holistic and inclusive growth of both its host communities and surrounding environment.
Take the case of its operations in Valencia in Southern Negros, whose residents, for over three decades now, have been reaping the benefits of being a first class municipality.
Materials provided by the EDC showed that the company’s contributions to this local economy, since it began operating the 192.5-megawatt geothermal facility in Southern Negros in 1983, have since resulted in “healthier families, more kids in school, brighter students, profitable farmers and community associations, more lush forests and the hope of a better future for Valencia.”
For this year alone, EDC has earmarked P12.6 million for its community investments for its Southern Negros Geothermal Production Field (SNGPF).
This budget is being allocated for several strategic and comprehensive programs concerning health, education, livelihood and environment.
“In the same manner that EDC has been uplifting the lives of countless people in its areas of operation, the company has helped Valencia and the entire province of Southern Negros achieve sustainable progress as the seat of clean power in the Visayas,” EDC explains.
“As EDC strives to achieve global domination in the production of clean geothermal power, it goes on to build the Philippine nation, one community at a time,” it further notes.
From the company’s social forestry program back in the early 80s, which aimed to transform slash-and-burn farmers (kaingeros) into forest stewards, EDC’s corporate social responsibility program has since evolved into a more sustainable, holistic endeavor.
Aptly named Community Partnerships, this CSR program continues to empower EDC’s host communities and helps them break out of the cycle of poverty.
Beyond the usual livelihood training, EDC has planted seeds of progress among its farmers and community associations through values formation seminars and by helping them build their capability. These initiatives have helped residents establish a good financial record and have capacitated them to work on several small scale labor projects.
EDC’s 11 farmers and community associations in SNGPF were able to get P26 million worth of small scale labor contracts in the company such as grass-cutting, minor repairs, slope stabilization.
Residents likewise earned an additional income of P1 million from the trading of their produce, which came from the demo farm that EDC had provided. At present, they regularly supply quality sweet corn to a popular corn food stall in Dumaguete City.
Up in the mountain barangays at Valencia, practically no one ever dreamt of finishing college at the University of the Philippines (UP) considering their distance and poverty.
EDC however, taught its high school scholars to dream and gave them a chance to make it a reality by preparing them for the UP College Admission Test (Upcat) under its College Admission, Review and Readiness (Careers) program.
Four of the reviewees from EDC’s host schools in Southern Negros have passed the Upcat in 2011 and have been given a new lease on their educational life as UP scholars beginning this school year.
Modern health building
To replace the already dilapidated rural health center, EDC also built last year a modern health building to provide Valencia residents access to better health and medical services. The facility was turned over to Valencia early this year.
Disasters have a tendency to bring out the best in people.
This was proven by the Barangay Emergency Response Teams (BERT) that EDC formed in its host communities in Valencia when they first responded and reported the damage that tropical storm “Sendong” brought to their municipality in December 16 last year.
While others were busy partying or preparing for Christmas, the BERT members and EDC’s team from SNGPF helped the families that were badly affected by Sendong through their relief and evacuation operations.
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