Leyte provincial capitol goes solar
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte, Philippines — A P70-million solar power project that will energize the new capitol complex of Leyte province has been completed.
Leyte Gov. Carlos Jericho Petilla, who served as energy secretary during the administration of the late President Benigno Aquino III, said using solar energy will not only be beneficial to the environment but will also help cut the province’s monthly power cost.
Expressing hope that businesses and households in the province would also adopt clean energy, Petilla said: “I am not really happy that the capitol building will be going solar. I will be happy if others will do the same. My vision is not to power ourselves with solar but really to educate the people and for them to use solar energy.”
The solar panels installed on the roof of the capitol building, located in Palo town, will provide 36,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) to power the entire capitol complex, said the governor.
Petilla said the solar power project will be operationalized before the end of the year, making the provincial government independent from the electric cooperative serving the towns of Palo and Babatngon and Tacloban City.
The new provincial government complex was constructed for P800 million and completed in early 2022. The new capitol edifice is a bigger representation of the province’s 106-year-old capitol building in Tacloban City that had to be vacated after it sustained severe damage during Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013 and succeeding calamities. Petilla and other provincial officials planned to turn the old capitol into a museum.
According to Petilla, they have spent P70 million for the solar panel project, which could be recovered by the provincial government in about seven years.
At present, the province is paying around P1 million each month for its electricity consumption and the solar project is expected to cut the cost by half, or about P500,000 of its monthly electric bills, he said.
The solar panels, he said, have a lifespan of 25 years.
The governor, who was energy secretary from 2012 to 2015, said installing a solar energy system will only cost P8 per kWh, which is lower than the P14 per kWh charged by the Leyte II Electric Cooperative servicing Palo.
“Our mission is not just to energize the capitol, but to educate people about solar power. We want to see Leyte 20-percent independent from fossil fuel plants. We want each house to have their own solar power system and [be] independent from the rest,” Petilla said.
The solar power system has 500-kilowatt (kW) batteries and 420-kW solar panels installed on both sides of the provincial government complex designated as parking spaces.
The provincial capitol complex, however, is still connected to the local electric cooperative for “optimal” energy supply augmentation.
Most electric cooperatives in Leyte get their power supply from the coal-powered plants of GNPower Dinginin Ltd. Co. based in Mariveles, Bataan.