Negros to herald power transformation in PH – study

The latest publication of think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) and grassroots movement REpower Negros launched in a webinar on Friday reveals the two-province island’s potential to serve as a starting point for the transformation of the country’s power sector as required by the worsening climate crisis, thanks to its unique power landscape.

     Produced through a series of consultations with experts and Negrosanon power stakeholders spanning nearly a year, “REpower Negros: A Scoping Study of Negros Island’s Power Sector Transformation,” provides scientific and policy research on the Negros power sector condition, looks at challenges, and offers concrete recommendations towards a full transition to clean and affordable energy.

     “The study has found that the vision of a 100% renewable energy-powered Negros is indeed possible. The combination of local policies favoring renewables, upcoming expiration of coal power supply agreements, a diverse renewable energy installed capacity mix and potential, and a strong movement supporting renewable energy development make Negros Island a hopespot for the first power transformation in the country. But this would require Negros to address existing contradictions that allow coal and other fossil fuels to maintain a foothold in the island,”  said lead researcher and CEED Research, Policy and Law Head Atty. Avril De Torres.

     Combined, Negros Occidental and Oriental boast of an impressive 95% renewable energy share in its installed capacity mix, but Negrosanons are unable to benefit from the cheap and clean electricity that the island produces as 73 to 80% of the power it contracts is largely from coal and fossil fuel plants outside Negros.

     “With this study, we hope to contribute to the power transformation of Negros by empowering Negrosanons to take an active role in ensuring that local energy planning and implementation is sustainable and democratic,” adds De Torres.

     The webinar and publication launch featured national and local advocates, experts, and energy stakeholders, including Bacolod Representative Congressman Greg Gasataya, Former National Renewable Energy Board Chair Atty. Pete Maniego, DOE Visayas Field Office Energy Industry Management Division Chief Engr. J. Rey Maleza, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung climate justice program Director Laura Geiger, Konsyumer Negros Coordinator Griderick Alila, REpower Negros representative Atty. Mark Steven Mayo, and San Carlos City Bishop Gerardo Alminaza.

     “The publication of this research could not have come at a better time as the current climate crisis and pandemic has made the transition to clean renewable energy all the more urgent. It fittingly coincides with the Season of Creation, which invites us to reflect and renew our commitment to uphold the integrity of Creation. We hope this study would strengthen efforts for the stewardship of our Common Home and our care for one another, and spark that hope in and beyond Negros that ending the destruction caused by coal and fossil fuels is possible,” said long-term clean energy advocate Bishop Alminaza.

     The study gives key information addressed to decision-makers in shaping the future of the Negros energy landscape towards a just energy transition and democracy–findings which the vibrant civil society movement in Negros challenge leaders to utilize.

     “The shift to renewables in Negros is not only possible, but an inevitable reality. Local communities staunchly support this, and there are no technological nor financial barriers that cannot be overcome if political and financial interests of those in power would truly align with the people’s demands. The unextinguished possibility of the renewal of expiring contracts with coal plants outside of Negros is but one proof of resistance by leaders and power players against true sustainable development. We believe it is high time they listen to climate science and prioritize the lives of people over profit, especially amidst a crisis that a vaccine cannot fix,” stated Krishna Ariola, lead convenor of Youth for Climate Hope.

     Representing the thriving youth movement, Ariola said that the publication of the study is but part of many steps the groups will take in ensuring that Negros preserves its deeply rooted and successful history of championing sustainable and people-centered development.

     “The people of Negros have fought for a coal-free province for two decades, and the youth of today will not let their struggle be in vain. Now, our fight for the future we will be living in demands that we cut all emissions now and shift to cleaner energy sources. It is more than possible in Negros, and we will continue to struggle until our story becomes one of hope and victory,” she said.



Photo: Taken in February 2020 during REpower Negros Movement’s consultation with members of the academe.