Green power or coal power?

The world has gone green. Tesla and even Porsche have electric cars. Yet, in a country like ours, green power is not getting enough of a push. Did you know it takes 200 permits to get a solar plant started? Now that’s real red tape.

We used to be number two in geothermal, now we slid to number three because Indonesia overtook us. This and other energy-related tidbits were shared with us by attorney Jay Layug, who used to work at the Department of Energy (DoE). I asked many questions related to shifting our little farm to solar power.

I asked a solar provider to give me a quotation to turn my coffee mill and cupping lab into a solar-powered facility. Alas, I need to spend AT COST almost P400,000, and it would take three years plus to recover the investment.

But I will still try to make a solar panel installation for my small house to at least provide for hot water and a few lights. Amadeo, Cavite is at a high elevation and we may not need air conditioning through most parts of the year. But we do need hot water and some lights. We need to run our electric water pump, etc.

The ideal scenario — given our green-related laws:

1. Use solar power if you consume at least 100 kilowatts (kW).

2. Sell your excess to government through Feed-in Tariff (FiT) which has been suspended for now. But which we hope will be reinstated in the next administration. Hello Mr. Secretary, what is the reason for suspending FiT?

3. We have the right and option to get power from green power providers. It’s supposed to be cheaper and better than coal, right?

(MAP had a general membership meeting on Aug. 10 where Mr. Layug was a guest and along with Sherwin Gatchalian and they explained to us the power situation.)

Now, what is happening to our green or renewable sector? Given that we already had a close brush with brownouts last summer, it’s time to prepare for next summer. Let’s use solar power whenever we can.

Besides being cost efficient and cheaper over the long haul, green power is something every household should consider. This is the future. Rommel, my nephew, turns on his air-conditioning which is powered by the sun. He installed solar panels and enjoys free aircon while conducting virtual meetings from his home. Rommel is also Mr. Electric Vehicle and started the EVs and electric jeeps many years ago.

So, where is this headed? Even Meralco has started its foray into green power. What about the other coal companies? When will you speed up towards going green?

The damage to the planet is being assessed as “irreversible,” but we are not losing hope. The first to go will be methane-producing cows and then, simultaneously, a conversion or transition to renewable energy.

Another investment will be solar plants or solar farms. We are looking for areas where the idle land can be converted into solar farms. Not every country has the gift of as much sun as ours —imagine the western countries who have the technology but do not have as much solar power as we have.

But again, 200 permits to put up a solar plant? Let’s think again. Where did we make a mistake? In any case, maybe this will be speeded up by the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) or, if enough netizens gave their opinion about it, maybe the DoE and other agencies will wake up to sun power, or wind power, or ocean power.

Like Congresswoman Loren Legarda says: “We have good laws. We just need to implement them well.” So, what are we waiting for? If each company or each village produced their own power through solar, it can even be a money-making activity for each town.

Let’s keep learning. Because power is something we all need. But we can shift to renewables. We can slowly get rid of coal or fossil fuels. But it has to start from the top. So, we are calling on our corporate heads to start green projects and the general investing public to choose renewable energy investments.

Why is it taking so long for corporate leaders to realize that this is the way of the future? Is it just profit even if it is not green profit? If one has to adjust to today’s pandemic, the heat upon us, the unprecedented power shortages, and the dire situation of our power plants, we must act now. Be the one who looks to the future. Be the one who looks at a sustainable tomorrow for your company while you are in charge.

It can be done if we all do it. If we see it.

However, only visionaries are seeing it. Are you one?

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or MAP.


Chit U. Juan is a member of the MAP Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and Chair of the Philippine Coffee Board.

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