Ex-CJ Puno calls for shift to solar power to address energy shortage

Shifting to abundant and cost-efficient solar energy can significantly bring down the cost of electricity for homes and businesses and mitigate the impact of an impending energy crisis, former Chief Justice Reynato s. Puno said over the weekend.

Speaking at the ceremonial switching-on of a 50-kilowatt solar-energy system installed by GenWATT Energy Solutions at the building of St. Martin of Tours Credit and Development Cooperative in Bocause, Bulacan on Saturday, August 6, Puno pointed out that the country’s continuing dependence on imported oil and coal threatens not only the country’s energy security but also economic security.

Puno, who chairs the GenWATT Board, warned that an unabated rise in electricity costs, spiralling prices of imported fossils fuels and the expected depletion of the Malampaya natural gas fields in Palawan, if not effectively addressed, could bring the country back to the dark days of rotating blackouts and grind many businesses and industries to a halt, resulting in billions of pesos in economic losses.

But he said the installation of solar energy systems in homes and buildings, such as the one at St. Martin Coop, will not only reduce electricity costs for households and businesses, but reduce the country’s power-supply deficit.

“Kulang na kulang po ang ating supply ng kuryente, na lalaki pa pag tuluyang nawala ang natural gas sa Malampaya,” Puno said, citing a news report quoting Energy Secretary nominee Rafael Lotilla.

One solution, he said, is to harness solar energy to bring down the cost for homes and businesses and increase energy supply.

From the savings on their energy costs, “magkakaroon ng malaking matitipong salapi ang mga mamamayan and their purchasing power will grow,” Puno said.  “At habang lumalaki and kanilang purchasing power, sisisigla naman ang negoyo, lalaki ang buwis na makokolekta ng gobyerno at gaganda ang serbiso ng gobyerno,” he added.

Echoing Puno, Serafin Celestino Jr., chief executive officer of St.Martin Coop said, shifting to solar “will significantly lessen the demand for coal-dependent energy and help generate cost-effective and reliable renewable energy.”

“And if only the energy companies and the government a could make harnessing solar energy more affordable for everybody to eventually free them from the shackles of high energy cost, I believe that more people, more businesses will shift to solar energy,” he added.

Wendell Tamayo, GenWATT CEO, said the 50-kilowatt system with an initial 40-kilowatt generation capacity can produce 150 to 200 kilowatts of electricity on a normal sunny day, supplying 60 to 80 percent of the building’s requirements during office hours. It has the potential to save P45,000 to P70,000 in electricity bills every month at a price of P11.00 per kilowatt-hour.

He said that over the 25-year guaranteed production efficiency of the solar panels, the system is projected to generate 1,500 megawatts of electricity and potentially earn for St. Martin Coop up to P30 million in electricity bills, and at the same time, sequester some 350 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The partnership between St. Martin Coop and GenWATT is part of the company’s Cooperative Renewable Energy (CORE) Program under which it provides cooperatives and their members access to cost-efficient and profitable solar energy.