I. Norte rules in wind, solar plants

LAOAG CITY, Jan. 12 – Ilocos Norte, a coastal province in Northern Philippines, has continued to strengthen its global presence as a center for renewable energy in Southeast Asia as it marches on to harness the power of water, wind and the sun as sources of green energy in the country.

In 2013, the province broke ground for more wind power projects namely the multi-million-dollar 87-MW Burgos wind farm project in April and the 81-MW Pagudpud wind farm in September.

The two big wind farm projects will supplement the existing wind farm in nearby Bangui town with its 31-megawatt (MW) renewable energy wind farm.

Following the launch of a 20-MW solar energy project in Barangay Paguludan in Currimao town in 2012, two more solar power plants were mulled for the towns of Badoc and Pinili with the signing of separate Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) documents between officials from the two local government units and a giant South Korean company last August.

Since the 1980s, the province has been feeding clean energy to Ilocos Norte residents through two mini-hydro power plants along Agua Grande River along the Pansian and Pasaleng rivers, all in Pagudpud town.

Both plants were built during the administration of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. The twin power plants have a capacity of five megawatts, supply power to at least 17,000 households in Pagudpud and nearby villages in Bangui, Pasuquin and Bacarra towns.

The first wind farm in Southeast Asia, located in Ilocos Norte’s northern town of Bangui, was built in 2006. It initially fed power to the province and later to the national energy spot market.

In the arts and cultural front, festivals have added color to town celebrations and, in the process, drew more tourists craving for Philippine unique culture and practices.

Tourism has also made Ilocos Norte the envy of other Ilocos provinces for churning droves of tourists to various destinations and newly-opened tourist sites here.

Last year, the “Marcos Heritage Walk” was opened in Sarrat town complimented by the “Heroes Walk” at the “Sirib Mile” university belt in Laoag City featuring the first nine illustrious sons and daughters of Ilocos Norte. These heroes of Ilocos Norte have bust monuments found at the front ground of the existing Rizal Park adjacent to the Centennial Arena here.

An amazing unique “Tribal Village” in Nueva Era town also made its soft-opening last December. Foreign and local tourists are lured to visit this man-made village in the boondocks of Nueva Era owing to its cool climate likened to Baguio City. It was patterned after the famous Kota Kinabalo, the tourism mecca of Malaysia.(MCA/FGL PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)