The idyllic island province of Guimaras may be known for a great many things – rich marine resources, mangrove forests, long stretches of white sand beaches and island coves, and the sweetest mangoes. As home to AC Energy’s 54 MW Guimaras Wind Farm located in the town of San Lorenzo, the company has drawn the blueprint to fully support the development and prosperity of the province, spearheading environment and social initiatives to promote socio-economic progress for the local community. Hence, AC Energy is working hard to make sure Guimaras is known for one more important thing: a progressive eco-tourist spot leading the green energy transition in Western Visayas.
As Ayala Corporation’s power generation platform, AC Energy aims to engage with its host communities from the early stages of the project and throughout the plant operations. The company develops programs that will benefit neighboring communities as it reiterates its commitment to the Ayala group philosophy of creating value not just for its businesses, but for the environment and communities where it operates.
While the Guimaras Wind Farm powers the region with renewable energy, it also provides a boost to the province’s tourism sector, its 27 turbines providing a majestic backdrop for the bike trails and jogging paths that have spung up in the area. Meanwhile, the wind farm’s Pasalubong Center showcases locally made products that generate the livelihood of many Guimarasnons, from bamboo products, handcrafted soaps to candles and other souvenirs.
Recently, Guimaras Wind Farm took sustainability and tourism a step further with the launch of the Green Spark Project, a program that promotes the use of locally made “bambikes” or bamboo-made bikes within the wind farm. The bamboo bikes are set up near the Pasalubong Center, and will entail the use of the winding paths that traverses the wind turbines that tower like gentle giants over the terrain.
The local community have also found livelihood in the year-round attraction, ensuring their self-reliance and economic security in the midst of the pandemic.
Green Spark Project is a collaboration among Guimaras Wind Farm, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, Bamb Ecological Technology Inc., the provincial government of Guimaras, and the municipalities of San Lorenzo and Buenavista.
Building a “learning forest”
In the local community of Tanglad, Sibunag, Guimaras Wind Farm is working with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the Arboretum Project, a program that will convert a 27-hectare woodland into a “learning forest”.
Select species of trees in particular quantities were identified and propagated within the green space. The saplings were chosen based on its quality and potential to enrich the biodiversity in the area. In total, over 6,000 trees were planted in the forest with the objective to be an educational resource for students where they can observe the fauna and explore its symbiotic relationship with the land.
Steadfast support in the pandemic
In light of the COVID-19 situation, Guimaras Wind Farm, through the Brigada ng Ayala program, responded to the needs of teachers and learners by aiding the preparations for the new normal in education. Over 1,300 reams of bond paper were distributed to 114 schools in Guimaras which will be used for the printing of modules for the students.
Health and hygiene packs called “Ayala EduCare packs” will soon be given to the students. Each pack contains vitamins, alcohol, soap, washable face masks, disposable face masks and instructional materials on protecting oneself from Covid-19. Meanwhile, Guimaras Wind Farm distributed educational items and balikbayan boxes filled with rehabilitation materials for several day care center under its “Kariton ni Juan” program.
To aid the province’s response to the pandemic, Guimaras Wind Farm provided support through cash donations, a ventilator, other medical supplies such as PPEs, face masks, gloves and alcohol, relief goods and food packs, with the priority to keep the infections down and the local community safe.
Taking the lead in sustainability
Guimaras has long taken the path of sustainable development, being already energy self-sufficient from the wind farm that produces power for the entire province while also contributing energy to the whole Visayas grid.
Most recently, Guimaras declared a total ban on coal and other fossil-fuel energy, making it the first coal-free province in Western Visayas.
“AC Energy and Guimaras Wind Farm will continue to support the province of Guimaras as it takes strides toward being an eco-tourist spot and a leader in sustainability,” said Gabby Mejia, AC Energy Executive Director and Head of Plant Operations. “As we continue to scale up our renewable energy investments in the country, it is also important for AC Energy to develop sustainability programs that benefit our host communities similar to what we are doing in Guimaras.”