GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 January) — A South Korean-backed firm is reportedly planning to invest around US$90 million for the development of a 35-megawatt (MW) hydroelectric plant in Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato.
Roger Acosta, program manager of the Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance (AVLADA), said Tuesday executives of DongJoo Engineering Co., Ltd. (DJE) visited the province last week to explore the viability of developing a hydropower plant project in Barangay Lamfugon in Lake Sebu town.
He said the company earlier sent technical experts to the village to conduct initial studies on the Takbu River, where the proposed project will be based.
During the visit, Acosta said the DJE executives met will local government officials and sought for the issuance of an endorsement from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for the project.
He said they also discussed a potential partnership with distribution utility South Cotabato I Electric Cooperative for the project’s development and operation.
“They were very positive with the project and signified to come back later to work on the other details of the venture and possibly start with the permitting process,” he said in a media forum.
Acosta said the proposed hydropower venture was mainly an offshoot of the first South Mindanao Tourism Investment Conference (Tourism Icon) that was hosted by the province in October last year.
The Tourism Icon is a project of the AVLADA and the local governments of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
AVLADA is a local government-led environment body that oversees the management and protection of the Allah Valley landscape, specifically the critical Allah River and its watershed areas.
It is supported by the Canada-backed Local Government Support Program for Local Economic Development of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Tourism in Region 12 and the Mindanao Business Council.
During the conference, organizers cited several “big ticket” investment projects worth around P2.45-billion that are aimed to complement with the area’s growing tourism industry.
These include the development of renewable energy sources and the establishment of additional tourism facilities and other related infrastructure.
Aside from the proposed hydropower project, Acosta said they are pushing for additional investments into eco-tourism, potable water resource development and irrigation in Barangay Lamfugon.
He said they have initiated studies that will identify the potential projects that could be implemented in the area.
“We’re at looking at ventures that will complement with the hydropower project and at the same time provide development opportunities for other resources there,” the official said.
Barangay Lamfugon hosts the Kofnit Cave, which is one of the mountain caves found in Lake Sebu town.
Kofnit is the local term for bats, which have thrived for years at the cave.
The cave, which is found in Sitio Lembila, is mainly known for its underground river. (MindaNews)