by Samantha Isobel Tumagan

While walking along Boracay’s beachfront, one might take a glimpse of an array of wind turbines situated on the foothills of Nabas’ mountain ranges.

These are courtesy of Nabas Wind Farm which delivered its first power to the Visayas Grid in 2015. The construction was led by PetroGreen Energy Corporation (PGEC), a fully owned subsidiary of PetroEnergy Resources Corporation (PERC).

Barangay Pawa, a remote area in Nabas, is sited high up in its mountain ranges. It is said that this barangay is where winds blow the strongest among all other areas in Nabas. 

“Parang palaging may bagyong parating. Sobrang lakas ng hangin, malakas ang tunog,” says Yrel Ventura, CSR and Environment Manager of PetroGreen Energy Corporation. 

This eyed PetroWind Energy Inc. (PWEI) and saw it as an ideal spot to utilize renewable wind energy.

An initiative for the area’s comprehensive development

Brgy. Pawa’s location is a disadvantage for the residents to have accessibility for government and medical services. Apart from that, the closest spring is over a kilometer away from residential areas resulting in scarcity in water supply. Having no electricity supply, people were literally living in the dark. In the evening, their main source of light is the gas lamp or gasera.

In order to aid the community’s basic necessities, Pawa Agri-Ecotourism and Livelihood Development Association (PAELDA) was established in 2014 before the installation of wind turbines. This was led by the village folk with the help of PWEI.

Between 2014 and 2015, PWEI completed a road project that included the installation of water impounding dams, tanks, and pipes so that water from the spring could reach the residents' homes.

Several health, education, and livelihood projects were established to ensure holistic and long-term community development.  A nutrition program for malnourished children was also set up, and an ambulance was delivered to the barangay. 

Speakers and trainers from UP Los Baños and Aklan State University were brought in to share their knowledge on making handicrafts to the villagers. Bariw-weaving has become a sustainable source of income for the community and sparked the interest of the younger generation to learn about their old-age tradition.

Children's learning requirements and the school's physical development were aided through an adopt-a-school program. "May ilaw na sila sa gabi. Malaking tulong sa mga batang nag-aaral na ngayon,” Ventura says. The school in the area offers kindergarten up to Grade 4 compared to before which only offered up to Grade 2. Dati may isang teacher lang, ngayon may tatlong teachers na. They have 44 students now,” he adds.

An advocacy for clean energy

The Nabas Wind Farm is the first project in Aklan to utilize wind energy for electricity. Currently, there are 18 wind turbines that supply clean and renewable energy to the Visayas grid. The turbines supply 36-megawatt (MW) of power to the town’s 20 barangays which includes the households of Brgy. Pawa.

Clean energy is crucial for sustainability. Wind power does not make use of fossil fuel or coal. Instead, the propeller-like blades of a turbine are fueled by the wind which spins the generator to produce electricity. 

This also reduces the risks for environmental disasters. The production of power plants are often associated with fuel spills that contribute to air pollution and the release of greenhouse gases. 

The implementation of wind farms affects the community holistically ─ aiding the livelihood of residents, provide electricity, promotes eco-tourism, more job opportunities arise, and has a positive impact on the environment.

“We are confident that Bgy. Pawa can sustain its growth as a community given the wealth of potential that this location has in terms of eco-tourism, livelihood, and further employment when Nabas 2 starts construction,” says Ventura.

There is so much potential in the implementation of renewable energy sources. The Wind Farm in Brgy. Pawa is a great kickstart for further developments in the province. Using it as a basis for other projects might help reach out and provide opportunities to other remote areas. 

Sustainability reduces the risk for accountability. Thus, if given a choice, always opt for the greener one.