Communities surrounding the power plants are the important stakeholders for the Company’s operations because they have received both positive and negative impacts throughout the project’s life cycle. Consequently, the community’s acceptance is a significant factor to consider whether the project will be successful and able to operate or not.
Establishing the community engagement’s procedures and community’s opinion acceptance since the beginning of the project can therefore create information communication, understanding and good relationship between the company and communities. In addition, all information received from community engagement at the project’s beginning stage is collected and used for a project design, a decision making and possible impacts monitoring during the project’s operation. The Company has collected and considered all comments receiving from the communities engagement and opinion hearing throughout the project’s life cycle, to improve its operations and to seek opportunities to work with the local communities for the engagement and sustainable development. This is a key success factor for establishing acceptance and good relationships throughout the project’s life cycle.
The Company has established the community engagement through the stakeholder analysis procedures, dividing into directly and indirectly affected groups as well as beneficiaries since conducting a study. The procedures start from receiving comments and concerns, designing a project, and establishing proper measures to decrease social and environmental impacts for each area. Generally, the project will classify stakeholders based on impact levels. The classification may differ from locations and regulations of each country.
Afterwards, the Company will assign a direct responsible function to create community engagement in order to develop an appropriate and sufficient operational plan for each community, covering a vulnerable group such as persons unable to protect their rights or have no freedom to make a decision like children, the elderly, refugees, and native people.
Indigenous People Engagement
The Company has placed great importance on respecting human rights and indigenous people engagement, although there is none of indigenous people staying in most of the company operation. The Company has to study and gain better understanding at the feasibility study stage so that the project can operate smoothly and will not affect ways of life and cultures of these native people. The Company has also put emphasis on cultural conservation, fair quality of life promotion such as public health and education, promotion of native products, and providing more job opportunities compared to people from other regions.
The Vinh Chau Wind Power Plant project is considered as Banpu Power’s first step in conducting the power business in Vietnam that the surrounded community is an important stakeholder for its operation. The community living surrounding the project have been affected both positively and negatively throughout the project period.
The Company, therefore, places great attention to social data studies in the project areas. Moreover, a community engagement process and a community’s opinion hearing have been carried out prior to project construction. These include data gathering from the community engagement. All data collected is brought up and lead to the project design and decision making. Furthermore, all dimensions of possible impacts is monitored during both the project construction and operation.
In 2019, the Company conducted a study on social data with key activities such as:
• Gathering secondary social data and related laws
• Surveying and collecting of basic socio-economic data such as a number of populations per household, ethnicity, religion, local culture, education, occupations, unemployment, incomes and expenditures per household compared to the poverty line, infrastructure, public health, land use, including vulnerable groups in the area
• Arranging meetings for small community groups and stakeholders living surrounding the project and government officials to clarify project details, listening to their opinions, answering their questions and providing relevant information. There were 159 people selected via a sampling method with statistical principles participating in the meetings, divided into nine small-group meetings. A survey of 90 households was also organized.
• Drafting the grievance procedure and correction process
• Drafting a community engagement plan
The Company is able to use data from the locally social studies to create community engagement and look for opportunities to be a part in promoting the sustainable development in the future.
Haoyuan Solar Power Plant is located next to Ma Ziyu Village, Taian City, Shandong Province, China. This village is a rural village that faced with severe droughts during the winter season and has limited infrastructures, i.e. electricity and illuminations and water supply.The majority of Ma Ziyu population works in the agriculture field and most of the population is an elderly. 60% of them are 60-90 years old while 30% are 50-60 years old.
The Haoyuan Power Plant has implemented community engagement activities through surveying the needs of Ma Ziyu community members. The survey found that they need to improve the quality of life such as basic infrastructures, skills development and employment so as to increase their household incomes.
Consequently, Haoyuan Power Plant has implemented various community engagement and social responsibility activities focusing on improving the quality of life and occupational creation in addition to treating the Ma Ziyu community member.
The community engagement and social responsibility activities are as follows:
• Organizing the mechanic-skill trainings for maintenance works at the power plants for community members, such as solar panel maintenance, cable routing construction, and power plants cleaning
• Hiring contractors to work at the solar power plants such as construction, fence installation, solar panel maintenance, mowing, cable routing construction and road maintenance, etc.
• Installing solar street lights in the village roadways
• Home maintenance for the elderly, lifting their living conditions
• Organizing activities to build relationships with the elderly in the area, such as cooking food for the elderly during festive seasons, providing necessities for the elderly during the winter, and participating in cultural activities