There might be another way around cleaning up Boracay without the mandatory closure of businesses that drive its economy. How? By putting up waste-to-energy facilities in the bustling tourist destination.
An official from the Aklan Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AKELCO) brought this up amid reports that a number of establishments in the area will be forced to temporarily shutdown after repeated violations of state environmental laws and regulations on proper waste disposal.
AKELCO general manager Alexis Regalado said a company has expressed interest to build a biomass-fired power plant in one of the three barangays comprising the island and they are giving it some serious thought.
“We have already been approached about plans to establish a biomass [plant to convert] wastes [into at least] one megawatt [of power]. They said they already acquired a lot in Manoc-Manoc, where they want to put it up, but [its development remains to be seen],” Regalado said.
The AKELCO chief sees this as a possible long-term solution to mitigate the recurring waste management issues of Boracay. No less than President Rodrigo Duterte claimed recently that the island has turned into a “cesspool” because of its worsening sewage problem.
He shared concerns that if this situation is left unaddressed, it will definitely affect many industries including their distribution utility, which earns a great deal of revenues from the hotels, restaurants and other businesses that operate in the area.
Regalado considers Boracay as the “bread and butter” of AKELCO because although it covers only 8,000 out of the total 151,000 consumer connections in their franchise area, it generates 55 percent of their overall average monthly income.
“AKELCO will be affected if a lot of businesses will be closed, especially if they are big establishments,” he said. Investing in a biomass facility may not only prevent this scenario but it can also help address the growing demand of the island for electricity.
The top tourist destination in Aklan averages a total of 28 megawatts (MW) in daily power consumption during its peak seasons and around 20 MW on quiet months. Accordingly, AKELCO has also been pouring its resources to improve power supply and reliability in Boracay.
Biomass facilities are among the many renewable energy development projects the National Electrification Administration (NEA) advocates under the leadership of Administrator Edgardo Masongsong.
Masongsong was in Boracay over the weekend to attend the recently concluded First Electric Cooperatives Board of Directors Summit hosted by AKELCO at the La Carmela de Boracay convention center.