GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 26 Feb) – The provincial government of South Cotabato has formally endorsed the planned development starting this year of a US$12-million solar power plant project in Surallah town by a foreign-backed renewable energy company.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Wednesday they issued the endorsement to allow NV Vogt Philippines Inc. to begin with the preparations for the development phase of the five-megawatt (MW) solar power plant venture.
She said the project mainly involves the construction and development of an eight-hectare solar farm and power plant facilities in Barangay Centrala in Surallah.
At 5MW, NV Vogt’s planned solar power plant would be the biggest photovoltaic power project in the country once completed, surpassing the 1MW solar facility in Cagayan de Oro City.
Fuentes said the project’s endorsement was based on an earlier recommendation from the Provincial Development Council (PDC), which is the province’s highest development policy-making body.
The PDC, which is chaired by the governor, is composed of the mayors of the province’s 10 towns and lone city, provincial government officials and department heads as well as representatives from accredited non-government organizations in the area.
“We endorsed the project mainly because of the benefits that it will bring, specifically in filling the energy vacuum in the province using the best alternative power from sustainable clean energy,” the governor said in a statement.
Fuentes said they also saw huge potentials with the venture in terms of job generation, increase in local tax revenues, expansion of eco-tourism opportunities and enhancement of local and foreign investors’ confidence to the area.
Considering the massive investment that the company will contribute to the local economy, she said the local government initially offered a 10-year tax exemption to NV Vogt as incentive pending the revision of the province’s revenue code.
She said the provincial government will shoulder the costs of the concreting of three-kilometer road from the national highway leading to the solar farm as additional support for the project.
“We assured them that the province will exert all efforts to provide them with safe, secure and peaceful environment to conduct their business,” Fuentes said.
Aside from its initial US$12-million or roughly P535.49-million investment, the governor said NV Vogt signified to invest an additional US$10 million for the project’s expansion in the next few years.
She said the company committed to later fund the establishment of a training center on solar technology in the province.
NV Vogt is backed financially by the Berlin, Germany-based ib vogt GmbH. Aside from the Philippines, the company has offices in the United Kingdom, Poland, India and Singapore.
The company signed an agreement with South Cotabato I Electric Cooperative (Socoteco I) in June last year for the streaming of power supplies from the facility.
Socoteco I serves this city, eight municipalities in South Cotabato and Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat.
The electric cooperative signed the supply contract with NV Vogt to provide additional power supplies to the area and cope with shortage caused by the declining capacity of the National Power Corporation’s (NPC) hydropower plants.
In September last year, Socoteco I was forced to implement daily rotational brownouts lasting eight hours due to the reduction of its supply contract with the NPC by 20MW or 12MW less than the area’s daily peak demand of 32MW.