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EU gives ‘light’ to more than 30 thousand homes in remote villages of Mindanao, turns over solar home system worth EUR18.4 million

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The European Union (EU), the World Bank and the National Power Corporation (Napocor) on Monday held a ceremony in Davao City, Mindanao to mark the completion of ceremony formally turned over 30,500 units of solar home systems (SHS) already installed in the beneficiary households of five electric cooperatives (ECs), in Bukidnon, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur, Cotabato and South Cotabato.

With an investment of EUR18.4 million (PHP 1.06 billion) EU grant, this work is part of the EU’s larger EUR 66 million (PHP 3.83 billion) Access to Sustainable Energy Programme (ASEP). The work on the electrification of households in remote villages in Mindanao has been implemented since 2019 by Napocor, with the technical support of the World Bank. An additional 10,000 SHS had already been installed in a prior implementation phase, which was co-funded by the World Bank-managed Global Partnership on Output based Aid (GPOBA).

At the ceremony, Mr. Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to the Philippines stated that “the European Union is committed to supporting the Philippines’ thrust to promote renewable energy and improve energy access. We are proud to have financed this action that reached vulnerable and isolated communities directly, providing a sustainable solution to a basic need such as access to electricity.”

Ndiamé Diop, the World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand, said that electrification is essential for poverty alleviation and inclusive growth, stressing the World Bank is gratified for being able to contribute to the government’s last-mile electrification campaign. “There are still more than 1 million households in the Philippines without access to electricity, most of them in remote and isolated regions or islands of Mindanao,” said Mr. Diop. “Government leadership, public financing and off-grid renewable energy solutions are critical to bring electricity to these remote and impoverished households and communities.”

Napocor as ASEP implementation agency conducted the bulk procurement of SHS and facilitated the delivery and installation of 30,500 units to households within the franchise areas of the five participating electric cooperatives: Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative Inc.(BUSECO), Sultan Kudarat Electric Cooperative Inc. (Sukelco), Davao del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc. (Dasureco), South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative Inc. (Socoteco II), and Cotabato Electric Cooperative Inc. (Cotelco).

The SHS is mainstreamed in the systems of electric cooperatives in terms of connection, billing, collection, operation, and maintenance. With the formal turnover of the SHS equipment, the beneficiary households now become member-consumer-owner of the ECs and will have the same rights and obligations as those connected in the electric cooperatives’ distribution system. Each SHS package includes a 50-watt peak solar panel, charge controller with lithium-ion batteries that can power at least 4 LED bulbs, radio, torchlight, and USB ports to charge gadgets.

“The project has been successful in many ways – we have provided sustainable, safe, and clean energy in isolated households in these areas and have increased photovoltaic technology talents through professional training to our electric cooperatives,” said Napocor Officer-in-Charge Atty. Melchor P. Ridulme.

Ridulme also expressed gratitude to the World Bank and EU for supporting the implementation of ASEP, particularly during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. He shared that, drawing inspiration from the project, Napocor will also be distributing SHS in its Small Power Utility Group areas using Philippine government funds.

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