The Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC) secretariat in MIMAROPA visited a renewable energy and several connectivity infrastructure projects in Oriental Mindoro particularly those located in the municipality of Puerto Galera on June 16 and 18.

The Wind Power Energy System in Puerto Galera is a 48.0MW wind power project operated by the Philippines Hybrid Energy Systems Inc. (PHESI). Its first stage of development was approved in June 2011  by  Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jose Almendras. Eight units of 2.0MW Gamesa G90 turbines (with a combined 16.0MW generating capacity), an access road, a substation, a 7.5-kilometer (km)  long 69kV transmission line, and a metering station comprise the first phase of the project implementation. This was completed at the end of the second quarter of 2019. Commercial operations commenced in the third quarter of the same year.

The wind farm project aims to provide a substantial renewable energy source to the island grid as diesel-based electricity supply is predominantly  present. To realize its goal, a hybrid expansion of the project is underway. A 6.0MW/6.0MWh Battery Energy Storage System is under construction to complement the operating plant. An additional 10.0MW of wind power will also be constructed within this year to reach its target of providing  a stable power supply in Mindoro.

Power generation through renewable energy resources supports in achieving a sustainable economy. It is expected to provide electric power at a lower cost which will be beneficial for its consumers in terms of savings. Advancing the clean energy initiatives in the province also entails the possibility of attracting investments. Adopting renewable energy increases macroeconomic efficiency through possible business expansions and increase in employment prospects. It also veers away from accumulating economic costs from environmental degradation and health risks brought about by traditional energy technologies.

On connectivity, the 19.565-km Mindoro Island Circumferential Road (MICR) in Abra de Ilog and Puerto Galera is being constructed to develop the interconnection of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro. The project is intended to optimize positive network impacts on the economies of both provinces and improve access to basic social services.

Estimated travel time for inter-province travel between Abra de Ilog and Puerto Galera will   be for  two hours only after the project completion, a far cry from the 10-hour long trip currently via Mindoro Oriental/Occidental East Coastal Road in Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro.

Aside from shorter travel time, the expansion of the inter-provincial transportation network is envisioned to result to efficient linking of major market economies. The quick access can prompt a development ripple effect in neighboring areas of concern. Urban agglomeration is also anticipated  from the influence and economic concentration of the integrated local growth centers.

Efficient transport and distribution system supported  by the MICR can also lead to the increase and modernization of agricultural productivity and tourism development for both provinces. From the stimulated demand, local products can expand its market base. The reduction in operating costs also promotes efficiency in transport of agri-fishery products.The project will also bring about  the emergence of new tourism products and services. Moreover, the connecting road can also lead to other economic potentials of existing resources along its new route and in the Strong Republic Nautical Highway or SRNH.

The RPMC secretariat noted that three sections of the road project with a total length of 7.603 kilometers (km) were already completed, seven sections with a total length of 9.376 km  are under construction, while a 1.20-km section and three bridges are still unfunded.

One of the challenges encountered during construction of the MICR is the misclassification of rocks along the construction site in Oriental Mindoro. This led to the contractor’s unforeseen encounter with solid rocks. Implementation was delayed because it lasted a year to secure the rock reclassification approved by the Bureau of Resource Sciences  and blasting permit from the Philippine National Police.

In the Occidental Mindoro part of the project, another cause of delay during implementation was the breeding ground of pawikan (green turtle and olive ridley species) located near the project area. Destruction of active nests is prohibited as per Republic Act 9147, also known as the “Wildlife Act”. This issue was already resolved through identification of new road alignment that avoids the sea turtle nesting grounds.

The third project inspected by the team was the Balatero Port. It was developed by the local government of Puerto Galera and was acquired through donation from the family of Architect Andy Locsin. A single port of entry system for Puerto Galera started in 2011 wherein full operation and management of the port was lodged to the Philippine Ports Authority. In September 2016, the MIMAROPA RDC  endorsed the Port Zone Delineation of the Balatero Port.

The Balatero Port now serves as one of the potential drivers for the development of Puerto Galera that facilitates the movement of people and goods. The municipality’s aggregate revenues are catalyzed by faster commodity flow, passenger mobility, and accelerated local development.

The power and connectivity infrastructure projects visited in Puerto Galera, while in progress, are considered instrumental in achieving sustainable development for the whole province. The RPMC is at the forefront in tracking  the implementation of projects  and for conducting  impact evaluation for these projects.