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Consumers in underserved rural areas push for solar franchise approval

/ 04:53 PM July 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Various groups from the countryside are rallying for the approval of House Bill 8179, which grants Solar Para Sa Bayan (SPSB) a non-exclusive right to operate microgrids in unserved or underserved areas in selected provinces.

Consumers and local governments alike believe it is time to introduce new choices for electricity to many areas that continue to suffer from inefficient, intermittent and expensive power supply.

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Various local government units have directly appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte, attesting to the positive impact of SPSB’s projects in their towns and the further benefits that will come should the proposed bill become a law.

Mayor Carl Pangilinan of Paluan, Occidental Mindoro, said the measure gives consumers new choices.

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“Mr. President, if this House Bill will be a law, this will give new choices for improved electricity. By granting a franchise for Solar Para Sa Bayan, the unserved and underserved areas in the whole country will be just like our municipality, having a reliable, efficient, sufficient and cheap electricity without compromising the environment,” Pangilinan said.

Mayor Katrina Orencia of Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental, likewise wrote: “We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for constantly supporting and giving options for better and cheaper electricity for Filipinos as stated in House Bill 8179. Moreover, the said bill has helped many towns and rural areas in the country. Our municipality is a testament of this endeavor.”

She said electricity is one of the major utilities necessary for the development of society. She said their municipality has long suffered from inefficient electricity supply.

Similarly, Misamis Occidental Governor and former Tangub City Mayor Phillip Tan said in a separate letter that with the advent of the Solar Para Sa Bayan Project and the timely approval of this law, “the bane of extended power outages and exorbitant energy prices will now become a thing of the past.”

“For several years, the Tangubanons experienced extended power outages and exorbitant energy prices which have not only affected their day to day activities but also the local economy as well,” Tan said.

“May I in advance say thank you very much, Mr. President in behalf of our constituents and the rest of the Filipinos who will greatly benefit once this Republic Act becomes a law upon your signing,” Mayor Froilan Andueza of Claveria, Masbate, also said.

Paluan Electric Consumers Association representative Jeffrey Huertas, for his part appealed to local authorities not to be swayed by electric cooperatives which do not like competition.

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“We appeal to our leaders to look past the self-serving positions of electric cooperatives, who wish to prevent the entry of competition, and power companies, who do not even know what it’s like to live in areas with inadequate electricity. Towns like ours are already benefiting from the service of Solar Para Sa Bayan, and it’s time other underserved towns across our country enjoy a new choice for electricity,” Huertas said.

Facebook posts supporting HB 8179 have already reached over 20 million Filipinos, generating over two million likes, comments, and shares, SPSB said.

This is consistent with the results of a Pulse Asia survey, indicating that 82 percent of Filipinos favor having new options for electric service.

According to Pulse Asia Director Ana Maria Tabunda, support for new electric service is consistent across all ages, classes, and geographies, with ratings in favor at 88 percent in NCR, 78 percent in Luzon, 84 percent in Visayas, and 83 percent in Mindanao. /asu

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