SUWECO Tablas Energy Corp. (STEC) expects its P550-million solar power plant in Tablas Island, Romblon to start commercial operations by September, the company said as it launched on Wednesday a hybrid solar-diesel microgrid with a battery facility.

“An estimated P180 million per year will be saved from the government subsidy for universal charge for missionary electrification,” STEC said in a statement.

The savings also come from avoiding the use of 3 million liters of fossil fuel and reduced carbon emissions of 6.5 million kilograms per year, the company said.

STEC claims to be the country’s first and largest hybrid solar-diesel microgrid with battery facility. Built on a 9-hectare property in Tablas, it is capable of producing 7.5-megawatts of electricity at peak.

The clean and reliable energy for the entire island is enough to support the daytime power requirements of the area’s 43,400 households.

“Excess solar power will be stored in the plant’s batteries and will be used to maintain a reliable system while diesel generators will produce electricity at night,” the company said.

STEC said the households used to experience daily power outages because of the limited supply from state-owned National Power Corp.’ small power utilities group, or SPUG, which is not connected to the national grid and depends on diesel-power sets.

The facility’s launch comes after President Rodrigo R. Duterte in July called on the Department of Energy to ease the development of renewable energy resources to cut the country’s reliance on traditional energy sources.

“We recognize the urgent need to ensure the sustainability and availability of resources and the development of alternative ones. In this regard, I trust that Secretary (Alfonso G.) Cusi shall fast-track the development of renewable energy sources, and reduce dependence on the traditional energy sources such as coal,” he said in his State of the Nation Address in July.

STEC is an affiliate of Sunwest Water and Electric Co., Inc. (Suweco), a pioneer in the implementation of hybrid technology in the Philippines. It operates in Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Romblon and Antique.

Suweco, which operates several mini-hydro and diesel power plants, is a member of the Sunwest Group Holding Co. Inc., a business group founded by Elizaldy S. Co, a Legazpi City-based entrepreneur and businessman. — Victor V. Saulon