DUMAGUETE CITY – Geothermal power leader Energy Development Corporation (EDC) has allocated funds for the establishment of additional off-grid electronic or e-communities in Valencia, Negros Oriental.
Norreen Bautista, head of EDC’s Corporate Social Responsibility for Negros, on Tuesday told the Philippine News Agency that two more barangays in Valencia, Negros Oriental are recipients of the firm’s expanded e-community project.
These are the villages of Malaunay and Caidiocan, which recently received a donation of PHP277,940 to be equally divided among the two communities for the installation of wi-fi infrastructures.
“We expect to complete the project with our partners this first quarter of the year. We are excited to include Barangays Malaunay and Caidiocan in our e-communities,” Bautista said.
Barangay Puhagan in Valencia was the first e-community to be funded by EDC, together with its partners. The project was launched sometime in October 2021 and became the first off-grid village in the country to have free public wi-fi.
The three barangays host EDC’s 222.5-megawatt Southern Negros Geothermal Project.
“We, at EDC, are very grateful for the collaborative efforts of our partners to elevate the communities in Valencia by providing them with free wi-fi internet access under our banner e-community project,” Bautista said.
The e-communities will allow residents of host communities to “harness the enormous potential and benefits of having consistent Internet connectivity to improve their education and livelihood and assist them in bringing the community towards progress,” she added.
The e-community project is EDC’s public wi-fi project anchored on Republic Act No. 10929 or “An Act Establishing the Free Internet Access Program in Public Places in the Country.”
It is undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NOCCI).
While EDC provides the funds for the cost of labor and the purchase of necessary materials and equipment for the structures, the DICT gives a fixed wireless broadband network with a 20mbps bandwidth, and NOCCI supplies fixed wireless solar technology and a redundant broadband network design to ensure uninterrupted connectivity for the residents.
The barangays are tasked with the logistics and maintenance of the structures.
Barangay officials of Caidiocan and Malaunay expressed their gratitude and appreciation to EDC and its partners for launching the project and bridging the digital divide by connecting far-flung, vulnerable, and at-risk communities across the country. They said they will now have broad access to information through the free internet connection.
EDC has been providing an uninterrupted source of clean 24/7 energy to Negros Island and other parts of the Luzon and Visayas regions from its 222.5MW geothermal facility in Valencia town for almost four decades.
The firm's more than 1,480MW total installed capacity accounts for 20 percent of the country’s total installed renewable energy capacity. Its almost 1,200MW geothermal portfolio comprises 62 percent of the country’s total installed geothermal capacity and has put the Philippines on the map as the 3rd largest geothermal producer in the world. (PNA)