Consumers should have been buying lots of Christmas celebration related goods. Parties should have started already. Instead, we have stores closing earlier than usual and resorts making up promos to attract as many guests, if any arrive. After the October 15 earthquake, the tourism industry suffered because of a lot of cancellations.
But it might have only been a temporary setback if power wasn’t knocked out after typhoon Yolanda which did not damage Bohol significantly. With the electrical service being totally out in major tourism areas, travel agencies have no choice but to suggest to guests to go elsewhere.
Because we are not sure when electricity would be back to normal, service providers would either have to prepare to spend for fuel for their generators in order to meet their commitments with their customers, or shut down for a while. Others may have to shut down permanently, unfortunately.
Yolanda reminded us that we should not assume electricity from outside the province is always available. Bohol must have its own capability to generate enough electricity at least to keep the city and major tourism and industrial sites running. The choice for Bohol would be renewable energy sources.
At the household level, off-grid solar energy systems would be a practical option. If we could buy these systems in volume, we could drive the cost down. If these systems could be tax exempt and duty free, costs can easily drop by at least 25%.
We also have large flat areas in the province that might be ideal for locating large scale solar panel systems to supply electricity to the grid. Imagine if we had solar electricity systems during the two weeks after Yolanda cut off electricity from Leyte, then we would have electrical service at least during the day. At that time, we could charge batteries to provide lighting during night time.
We should also explore the use of rice husks as fuel for generators. We produce tons of rice annually and that means tons of rice husks also. Unlike other biofuels or biomass, the use of rice husks will not compete with our food supply.
We produce thousands of pigs and chickens so there must be tons of animal waste that can be used to produce biogas which in turn can be used as fuel for generators.
Bohol should make itself self sustaining in terms of energy. Electricity drives the tourism industry. It drives the IT industry which is being eyed as the next industry that could provide jobs for Boholanos. It will drive the systems for the future Panglao Airport. Just imagine a headline in the future “Bohol airport cancels all trips indefinitely until power restoration”.
Our dependence on external sources of energy could keep knocking us down to our knees each time we are cut off from the grid. Even if private individuals are able to setup their own renewable energy systems, they would only be able to serve their own household. It is already late to setup our renewable power generation facilities to serve the entire province. But better late than later (or never at all).