Urban poor communities set big ambitions for renewable energy in motion
Amid rising electricity and fuel costs, a federation of urban poor community groups based in relocation sites in the Philippines are taking energy affordability and access problems into their own hands by putting up their own renewable energy (RE) initiatives and systems.
Partnering with think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), Samahan ng Mamamayan – Zone One Tondo (SM-ZOTO), headquartered in Navotas, on Wednesday announced it is undertaking a whole set of endeavors to build their member communities’ capacity to benefit from renewable energy, beginning with learning and training sessions, putting up a community-based RE training center, and installing solar PV rooftop systems.
“Sa panahong sobra-sobra na ang pagtaas ng presyo ng kuryente, hindi na tayo magpapaloko pa sa mga nagsasabing wala tayong magagawa kung hindi magtiis sa enerhiya galing sa mga fossil fuel dahil lang nakasanayan na. Hindi totoo na ang mga may-kaya lang ang pwedeng magkaroon ng malinaw na ambisyon para sa renewable energy, dahil tayong ordinaryong mga Pilipino ang posibleng pinaka makikinabang dito,” said Orly Gallano, President of SM-ZOTO.
According to Gallano, the initiative is also a contribution of urban poor communities in promoting sustainability and resisting the continued use of polluting energy.
“Ang mga fossil fuel gaya ng coal at gas ay mahal na, marumi pa – alam namin ito dahil naging biktima din ng coal pile sa Tondo ang ilang kasabi namin. Kung may alternatibo naman na mapakikinabangan talaga ng mamamayan, iyon na dapat ang gamitin natin,” he said.
Environmental and clean energy advocacy groups have been vocal in demanding for the swift development of renewable energy, especially community-based systems, in light of a worsening climate crisis and the country’s vulnerability to domestic and global energy shocks brought by dependence largely on imported coal, gas, and other fossil fuels.
“A shift to renewable energy really is the way to go, and more and more communities across the country are taking the lead in promoting this. Community-led initiatives are key in addressing gaps too often neglected by fossil fuel-based conventional energy systems. When designed, owned, and managed by and with communities, as is the case for this collaboration with SM-ZOTO, renewable energy systems will prove themselves truly capable of providing transformative solutions to the climate, ecological, and economic challenges of today,” said Avril De Torres, CEED Research, Policy, and Law Program Head.
For the groups, this effort must also be taken as a challenge by energy authorities and players to step up in steering energy transformation in the Philippines.
“Pinapasok natin ang gawaing ito bilang hamon din sa mga kinauukulan sa gobyerno at sa naglalakihang mga kumpanya ng kuryente: kung ang ordinaryong mamamayan na gipit sa kahirapan ay nagagawang magsimula ng mga proyekto para sa renewable energy dahil malinaw sa amin ang mga benepisyo nito at ang kapahamakang dala ng patuloy na paggamit sa coal, gas, at iba pang maruming klase ng enerhiya, higit lalo nilang dapat pangunahan ang kinakailangang transition,” said Sally Salvacion, SM-ZOTO Vice President – Internal and women’s representative.