Microgrids to speed up rural electrification


    Senate committee on energy chairman Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a bill that will remove barriers to the development of microgrid systems which are seen to help achieve government’s goal of providing electricity access to all Filipino households by 2022.

    Under his proposed Microgrid Systems Act of Senate Bill No. 1928, microgrid systems providers will be allowed to operate in any area where there is no electricity access at all or where the power connection does not provide 24/7 electricity supply.

    Gatchalian said a microgrid system is well-suited to unserved and underserved areas in the absence or insufficiency of main grid connections. It also promotes the use of local energy resources for power generation such as solar, wind and even biomass.

    Citing data from the National Electrification Administration (NEA), there are 12,672 unelectrified on-grid sitios as of June 2020 while there are 5,262 identified off -grid and remote areas for electrification as of November.

    In its proposed 2021 national budget, NEA is allocating P1.7 billion for the electrification of 1,153 sitios.

    Gatchalian said “if the same amount is given by the national government every year, it would take close to 10 years to electrify all these sitios and (demand in) these sitios (is) bound to increase due to population growth.”

    He said allowing the installation of microgrids will spare government billions of pesos in spending as it will allow private investors to enter the market.

    Meanwhile, NEA urged all 121 electric cooperatives (ECs) in the country to step up efforts towards the completion of the government’s rural electrification program.

    Artis Nikki Tortola, NEAdeputy administrator for technical services, said three ECs are implementing a strategized sitio electrification program as they cannot be energized by either sitio electrification or barangay line enhancement programs.

    These ECs are conducting feasibility studies that will identify the renewable energy resource that is most advantageous for its microgrid system. These are Quezon II Electric Cooperative, South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative and the Zamboanga del Norte Electric Cooperative.