Knowing that energy connectivity makes a world of difference in the lives of rural Filipinos, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) is bent on reaching out to far-flung villages that remain isolated from the grid.
One of these is Sitio Ayoke, a small fishing village off the coast of General Island in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur, which the NEA plans to formally energize by setting up a submarine power cable system.
The proposed infrastructure will connect the island community either straight to the main power grid of Surigao del Sur II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Surseco II) in Tandag City or passing it through the Libtong Cove in General Island.
The end goal is to provide Sitio Ayoke access to electricity without relying too much on renewable energy sources. At the moment, the island community depends on its solar panels for power whose upkeep proved to be quite a challenge on the part of its residents.
According to village councilor Analou Lumapguid, the batteries of their solar panels right now could only store 60 percent of energy, which is definitely not enough to get them through the night. She and majority of her constituents thus welcome the establishment of power lines.
NEA Deputy Administrator for Technical Services engineer Artis Nikki Tortola together with key personnel of Surseco II visited Sitio Ayoke recently to test its feasibility for possible installation of an undersea power cable.
This move is in line with the directive of NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong to pursue total electrification up to the last household in far-flung communities.
“We need to continue our rural electrification program because it is not yet complete until we have energized the last remaining household,” Administrator Masongsong stressed in a presscon organized by electric cooperatives in Surigao del Sur last week.
After surveying the location, Tortola said he has high hopes of developing the project through the Sitio Electrification Program (SEP), which the NEA is determined to complete under the leadership of Administrator Masongsong.
“Ang programa ng gobyerno ngayon is total electrification to the countryside, at the same time, total household energization… Lahat ng mga sitio na kayang abutin o dapat abutin kailangan malinyahan,” Tortola told the residents of Sitio Ayoke.
Surseco II general manager Iglorio Hinayon said energizing Sitio Ayoke was actually requested by Cantilan municipal mayor Philip Pichay who would like to maximize its potential as a tourist destination.
“Yon ang gusto ng local government unit ng Cantilan na if there is a possibility that we could extend our submarine cable from General Island to Ayoke then much better. That will really encourage and help their tourism program,” Hinayon said.
Surseco II has already been asked to come up with the design, cost estimate of the materials, and other details of the proposed submarine power cable. Hinayon said they are planning to submit it during the upcoming NEA Week this August.
Ayoke Island currently has an estimated population of over 500 and 96 households. It is among the roughly 4,210 sitios the NEA aims to fully energize this year or by 2018 under the second phase of its SEP with a budget allocation of P1.8-billion.