RDC-10 endorses major hydro power project

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/30 June) – The Regional Development Council of Northern Mindanao, sitting en banc, approved the proposed 300-megawatt Pulangi V hydroelectric power plant project to be constructed in southern Bukidnon and North Cotabato.

After almost three years of social preparation, the proponents of the said project showed a presentation to the RDC’s Infrastructure Committee last week before it was tackled in the RDC meeting in Ozamiz City on Tuesday (June 28).

The baseload hydroelectric power plant project is expected to help meet Mindanao’s power demand, which is projected to have a shortfall of about 500mw by 2014. At present, Mindanao’s power situation is reportedly in a precarious situation as its reserves have gone down to about 7 percent, way below the industry buffer rate of 13 percent.

The RDC however asked the project proponents Greenergy Development Corporation and the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (Fibeco) to update the project feasibility study to incorporate the updated financial and economic analysis of the project.

Engr. Cerael Donggay, chief executive officer of Greenergy, assured the RDC of compliance to the condition.

“We will update the financial and economic analysis by the third quarter of this year,” Donggay told MindaNews.

He added that as per their projections, the project’s Financial Internal Rate of Return (FIRR) and Economic Internal Rate of Return (EIRR) are way above the minimum standards set by the government.

The FIRR and EIRR for large infrastructure projects, according to government regulations, should be at least 15 percent.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which is required for the issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), is ongoing, Donggay said.

Donggay said that they are also on track in processing other government permits like Water Permit from the National Water Resources Board and the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

Jaime Pacampara, head of the RDC Infrastructure Committee’s Technical Secretariat, said that they are also requiring the project proponents the endorsements from local government units in Bukidnon and North Cotabato.

Pulangi V is located in the southern part of Bukidnon covering the municipalities of Kitaotao, Dangcagan, Kibawe and Damulog. It is some 40 kilometers downstream of the existing Pulangi IV (255mw) while its dam site would be located in the municipality of President Roxas, North Cotabato.

Of the 22 barangays to be affected by the project, only two barangays in Kibawe town have yet to issue their endorsements.

The Pulangi V plant will have three units of 100 MW each.

The project will involve the construction of river diversion facilities, dams, embankment and reservoir filling and commissioning.

A 20-km double-circuit 138-kilovolt transmission line would link it to an existing power substation in Kibawe.

The project is expected to be commissioned 69 months after the commencement of construction.

The project was originally proposed by the National Power Corp. (Napocor) in 1991 but had to repeatedly defer implementation due to the power crisis and the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Napocor eventually gave up on the project in 2001 with the passage of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act Law.

In 2009, Greenergy initiated the revalidation of the feasibility study and started project pre-development, which is focused mainly on social preparations.

Donggay said that their comprehensive social preparations has resulted in the 100-percent support they are getting from the communities affected, especially the lumad communities.

Donggay claimed that the Pulangi V project will not only stabilize Mindanao’s power supply but more importantly, it will generate clean and cheap renewable energy for Mindanao whose historic dependence on renewable energy is being inundated by expensive and carbon intensive coal and diesel power plants.

He said that the entry of Pulangi V will neutralize the high power rates from expensive fossil fuel fed generators that are coming in.

Mindanao has over 1,000mw of installed hydroelectric power generation capacity, with about 730mw from the Agus hydroelectric complex along the Agus River in the two Lanao provinces  and the 255mw from Pulangi IV in Bukidnon. Several other smaller hydro plants are scattered around the island.

The Mt. Apo Geothermal Power Plant has an installed capacity of 110mw.

In the 1980s up to 1990, Mindanao’s hydro power contributed 90 percent of Mindanao’s energy needs. From then on, however, the share of renewable hydro power started to dip to about 60 percent in 2007. Current estimates indicate that the renewable energy contribution of hydro and geothermal to the power mix of the Mindanao grid is about 40 percent. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin / MindaNews)