BY ALFRED PAGEPITU
A solar hybrid project land consultation has ended successfully at Vonunu village, South Vella la Vella Island in Western province.
A team from Solomon Power visited Vonunu and held talks on the solar hybrid project on Wednesday with leaders from the Bilua region of Vella la Vella.
Former Principal of Vonunu Secondary School Tim Bula said yesterday that the project started two years ago when he approached the branch manager of SIEA in Gizo for advice on power generation at the school.
Mr Bula said he suggested a better approach to powering not only the school but the surrounding communities as well through the solar hybrid system.
“This idea was widely circulated locally and a high powered delegation led by the Deputy GM/Chief Engineer, Mr Martin Sam came for the first briefing in 2016.
“Several meetings and visits followed and data was collected and processed to see if it was viable to install one such energy scheme here.
“It was considered viable after compilation of data and Vonunu Project was submitted to the Solomon Power Board,” said Bula.
He said the proposed site is situated on the northern end of Barokoma airstrip, around Puarizae area. The land belongs to the UCSI which has the FTE title.
Bula explained that the Church has allowed local people to reside in blocks of land not currently used by the Church.
He said when consent is given to Solomon Power to survey the place, people who have properties within the land will be compensated.
He explained that engineers of Solomon Power have carried out different tests and have decided to install a system that can generate voltage of 11,000V instead of the normal 415 as in the case of Taro, Sasamungga, Seghe and other rural installations throughout the country.
He said the VSHP when operational will be the same capacity as Gizo, Noro and parts of Honiara.
He said this means is the power grid can be extended to Lambulambu in the north, Supato in the west and Sambora in the south.
Bula said the first phase will only cover Vonunu to Barokoma under donor funding. Beyond Vonunu and Barokoma will be the sole responsibility of Solomon Power to run the mains to other villages under its own budget.
He said that if all goes well with land acquisition and the land agreement is signed between UCSI and Solomon Power with the instrument to lands department, the whole project will take at least a year to reach operational status.