FirstDibs by Amor Maclang • Published 06 October 2019
There is no other pillar in society that is more critical and more essential than that of consistent and reliable energy access. Every single industry from agriculture to telecommunications relies so heavily on energy that, without it, the world as we know it would simply collapse.
Mindanao, the Philippines’ second largest island, is currently in the middle of much-needed modernization. Despite producing at least 40 percent of the country’s food supply, there has historically been a severe lack of investment in the area’s power generation capabilities.
Not only has this affected the region’s development, it also risks impeding the whole nation’s progress and threatens the rest of the country’s supply of essential food.
It comes to no surprise that businesses have been reluctant when it comes to considering Mindanao as a preferred destination, since years of political and religious turmoil have highlighted the difficulties of potential ventures rather than the prospect of profits.
However, where others saw danger and mishap waiting to happen, one company saw opportunity.
Take the case of Iligan, for instance. After a trying period of economic hardship and daily power outages in the early 2000s, the industrial city of the South is now on its way to regaining its former glory as the PowerSource Group, a sustainable energy solutions company, seized the chance to become an ‘investment vanguard’ that would beef up economic and social growth in the area.
At his speech held during the Mindanao Business Conference 2019 (MinBizCon), Ricardo G. Lazatin, President of the PowerSource Group, credited Iligan for crafting a local investment code that makes the city attractive to potential investors. As a result, PowerSource Philippines Energy, Inc. (PPEI), one of PowerSource Group’s subsidiaries, entered the city in 2015 to start the development of a world-class thermal-hybrid power plant.
PPEI completed the construction of the plant, valued at approximately P3 billion, in July of last year. The embedded facility is unique in the sense that it is not reliant on being part of the grid to supply sustainable and uninterrupted energy to the plant, even in the event of massive grid blackouts in Mindanao.
“Through a joint effort with the local government unit, other energy companies, and the local community, we want to help protect and bolster Iligan’s energy future so that homes have light, businesses can function, and important healthcare services continue to operate worry-free,” said Lazatin.
The company’s efforts hope to ensure reliable energy supply in the city, in the event that Lake Lanao's water level falls critically low, affecting Maria Cristina Falls hydropower facility’s operations.
PPEI made the decision to transfer its headquarters from Makati to its newfound home in Iligan on March 20, 2019 to show its long-term commitment to the development of the city.
PowerSource Group is a sustainable energy company that offers renewable and thermal hybrid energy, microgrid management and distribution, and innovative energy solutions to help the development of both communities and businesses in cities and even isolated areas.
The company’s vision is to help change the energy landscape not just in Iligan, but the rest of Mindanao, so that energy can be made accessible to even the most remote areas. The company has made several advancements in the renewable energy sector in other parts of the country, such as the development of its solar power plant in Bulacan, and is hoping to spread the technology throughout the region. Additional to this, PowerSource continues its renewable power initiatives in Palawan.
“We have already recently established a foothold to start new operations in Balut Island, Saranggani,” Lazatin said, referring to other initiatives the company is pursuing in Mindanao. “Currently we are already working with the LGUs in BARMM to explore similar opportunities in other parts of Mindanao.”
According to Lazatin, PowerSource Group is going beyond providing energy to the city of Iligan and is focusing on how the company can make a meaningful impact on the community. Aside from creating jobs at the plant, PPEI donated a firetruck and ambulance the Iligan LGU last June 24 which was assigned to their host barangay in Kiwalan.
Lazatin added that PPEI has complied with an extensive list of regulatory requirements in the development and construction of the plant, saying that by promoting good corporate governance, they can help support the city in attracting other investors to Iligan.
PowerSource Group is currently drawing up plans to work with schools, starting with the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-iiT), to create a cadetship program for young engineers and students that will aid their skills development. This will eventually help turn Iligan into the Philippine center of excellence for energy engineering, or “energyneering.”
“Right now, we want to focus on finding potential partnerships and building good relationships with Mindanaoan communities,” said Lazatin. “Aside from generating revenue for the local government, we’re hoping our presence encourages others to consider Iligan as a viable investment opportunity.”
Additional opportunities that PowerSource Group is currently exploring include initiatives that will support the environment and restore natural resources through agro-forestry and water distribution.
“PowerSource Group considers itself as a long-term partner in the economic growth of Iligan and the rest of Mindanao. We are here for the long haul in helping promote the brighter future of Mindanao,” Lazatin concluded.