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Embracing solar rooftops in Mindanao

AP Reputation Management | September 24, 2018
APX General Manager Jose Rafael Mendoza addresses close to 800 participants of the 27th Mindanao Business Conference in Tagum City last September 13-14, 2018.
APX General Manager Jose Rafael Mendoza addresses close to 800 participants of the 27th Mindanao Business Conference in Tagum City last September 13-14, 2018. (Image via Minbizcon: Mindanao Business Conference 2018)

Amid the slew of solar panels available in the market, customers need to carefully evaluate their options and look for an experienced partner who can offer better solutions, an official of AboitizPower said.

Jose Rafael Mendoza, general manager of AboitizPower’s newly formed business unit, Aboitiz Power Distributed Energy Inc. (APX), said there are still many things to understand about rooftop solar technology in spite of its growing popularity.

“Customers need to know when they’re going to buy solar, how they’re going to buy it, and whom they’re going to do it with. It is important to find partners who can guide them through the transition,” he said in a presentation at the Mindanao Business Conference in Tagum City on September 14, addressing close to 800 participants from southern Philippines.

Mendoza explained that the interest in solar-related technologies could be due to the growing awareness on sustainability and care for the environment, which was brought about by the fair share of natural disasters the Philippines has experienced in recent years.

He said the cost of solar panels could become cheaper in the future, making the technology more accessible to those who are interested.

Under the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) scheme, power customers consuming an average of one megawatt and up can voluntarily look for their own retail electricity suppliers and can customize their contracts according to dispatch, technology, or power plant.

With the power to choose, he added consumers should select their partners wisely as well as make sure they have the track record and will be able to provide long-term support.

“We’re promoting having a holistic view of how solar affects a customer’s energy requirements and costs. As we await RCOA’s implementation here, we’re working closely with our local utility teams to fully understand how we can offer this in Mindanao,” Mendoza said.

Aimed at further expanding the company’s already significant renewable energy portfolio, AboitizPower announced its entry into the rooftop solar space through APX in April this year.

AboitizPower’s Cleanergy portfolio, which is the company’s brand for clean and renewable energy, boasts of 30 power plants all over the country, which generate a total of 1,226 megawatts (MW) in net sellable capacity. In Mindanao, AboitizPower currently has nine Cleanergy facilities. Another two hydropower units from Hedcor’s 68.8-MW Manolo Fortich hydropower project will start full operations later this year. By 2019, AboitizPower will deliver 129.37 MW of RE to the Mindanao grid.

Despite the clamor for RE in the Philippines, Mendoza said the transition to becoming a more mature market will be gradual and pointed out that the country is already behind the United States, Europe, and Australia.

He said that AboitizPower will nonetheless continue to look into what is in store for the energy industry, especially since the company has been in the business of power generation, distribution, and retail electricity service for over 80 years. AboitizPower’s new business unit recently signed an agreement with AboitizLand for the installation of a 1.5-MW rooftop solar project at The Outlets in Lipa, which is poised to be the biggest outlet shopping destination in Luzon.

APX is looking at completing several key projects in Luzon and Visayas in 2018 with a target to integrate it closely with the group’s existing open access customers.

Mendoza earlier said that he hopes APX projects will encourage others to pursue their own sustainability efforts and that utilizing distributed energy such as rooftop solar is a real step forward for those who want to do so.