Residents of barangay Puhagan in Valencia, Negros Oriental will now be enjoying free Wi-Fi after the switch-on ceremony last October 4, 2021, by the country’s first off-grid, electronic (e-) community.

Energy Development Corporation or EDC, who are one of the leaders in renewable energy innovation in the country, led the switch-on ceremony on site, where various partners also joined via Zoom, including Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NOCCI), and the local government unit of Valencia.

Governor Roel Degamo, Norreen G. Bautista, EDCs Corporate Social Responsibility head, Valencia Mayor Edgar Teves, Edward Du, former NOCCI president and now Central Visayas regional governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, DICT regional director Frederick Amores, and other local and barangay officials, led the switch-on ceremony.

Owned by the First Gen Corporation, EDC manages and operates the 222.5-megawatt geothermal power plants of the Southern Negros Geothermal Project (SNGP) in Valencia. 

With a goal in mind of continuously providing the host LGU with various programs and projects, ultimately bringing progress and development to the town which will be then benefited by the residents.

Having a good internet connection will “become essential for people to cope with their daily lives”, said Bautista, especially in far-flung areas like mountain barangays of Puhagan in Valencia. Moreover, the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic is one of the obstacles in terms of communicating with loved ones.

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Degamo seconded the statement by saying that digital technology, specifically the internet, helps people to connect and communicate under the “new normal”. He also went on to thank the proponents “for your continued efforts in bringing this project to Barangay Puhagan.”

The free-wifi facility is located in the barangay hall of Puhagan, with DICT providing the procurement of the fixed wireless broadband. It was noted that internet speeds of this will reach up to 40 mbps.

In terms of logistical and regulatory support, the town mayor as well as the LGU will be taking care of this meanwhile NOCCI will provide fixed wireless solar technology and a redundant broadband network design to ensure uninterrupted connectivity for the villagers.

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EDC assistant vice president for Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Relations, lawyer Allan Barcena stated that the idea was conceptualized as early as 2019, citing residents’ access to information, research and even e-commerce as the goal.

“This e-communities project is our way of fulfilling EDC’s mission to forge collaborative pathways for a decarbonized and regenerative future–which is essentially about creating an exponential positive impact by elevating our environment and our stakeholders,” Barcena said.

For almost 40 years, renewable energy leader 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 geothermal facility in Valencia.

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