Environment chief eyes requiring Palawan buildings to have solar panels

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Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) chief is looking into requiring buildings in the province of Palawan to have solarized roofs.

"Bumaba na 'yung cost eh [The cost has gone down]. I'd rather require 'yung mga buildings in the future na may solar roof na lang," DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said in the Senate budget deliberations of their department Wednesday.

Cimatu was responding to a question from Senator Sherwin Gatchalian asking if DMCI Power will be granted an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for a 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant. DMCI Power has a power supply agreement with Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO), the island's electricity distributor.

The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) approved DMCI's clearance for the coal-power plant in 2014.

But the DENR chief said the ECC has not yet gone past the level of the DENR's Regional Director.

"Dini-discourage ko lang muna 'yung coal power plant doon [I am discouraging coal-power plants there], we can use other ways like wind and solar," he said.

Called the "Last Ecological Frontier of the Philippines," Palawan is also home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, namely Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park and the Puerto Princesa Underground River.

"I support them for that. They should seek renewable energy, ang daming hangin diyan sa Palawan [there's so much air in Palawan]," said Senate Majority Floor Leader Migz Zubiri. "Maawa tayo sa Palawan. Last frontier na lang natin 'yun [Let's take care of Palawan, it's the last frontier']."

Senator JV Ejercito also called for the shift, but he added that government must address Palawan's power supply first.

"They have a very unstable supply," Ejercito said.

July 2018 data from the National Electrification Administration said that PALECO has energized 56 percent of the 1,380 sitios in Palawan.