CURRIMAO, Ilocos Norte, May 28–After several months of opposition by some environmentalists and militant groups, the foreign-owned Select Industries, Inc. finally obtained today a go-signal from government authorities to conduct a massive cutting of trees to give way for the construction of a long-overdue multi-million-dollar solar energy plant project in the sunny barangays of Bimmanga and Paguludan Salindeg of this coastal town.

Town Mayor Gladys Go-Cue confirmed to the media that the municipal government of Currimao under her administration and the Department of Natural Resources (DENR) had officially permitted the Select Industries, Inc. to cut the estimated 400 to 600 old trees including century-old ones, all found in the aforesaid two villages of Currimao where the proposed solar power plant will rise in a 60-hectare land.

Report said a letter of consent for the aforesaid massive cutting of trees was signed this morning by the concerned government authorities after a public hearing was held and attended by multi-sector members of the community in this town.

Mayor Cue explained that as corporate social responsibility of the solar firm, it pledged to offer jobs for the local residents, grant scholarships to poor but deserving students, help build more school classrooms, donate one unit of firetruck as well as support other laudable projects of the municipality.

On the other hand, Engineer Juan de los Reyes Jr., provincial environment and natural resources officer, said the solar company had allocated at least P25 million fund for reforestation project in Currimao.

For every cut tree, its replacement will be 300 growing trees of one meter in height, he said. They will be planted in any public places in Currimao such as plazas, school lots and even timberland if needed, he added.

It was learned that the Select company will start the solar project this coming June 2015 to be funded at 40 million US dollar. It is expected to be completed by January 2016.
When operational, the solar project targets to generate some 20-megawatt electricity enough to supply some 8,000 households in this town, report said.(tsg with ar, ga reports)