300-MW hydro power project in Bukidnon endorsed

MALAYBALAY CITY – The 300-megawatt Pulangui V hydroelectric power project has been endorsed by the Northern Mindanao Regional Development Council (RDC) to the Department of Energy and other concerned agencies “for appropriate action,” documents submitted  by the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (Fibeco) and Greenergy Development Corporation to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan here showed.

But the RDC in a resolution approved on June 28, 2011 said it recognizes the importance, supports the project, and endorses it for approval “subject to compliance by the proponent in addressing issues and concerns.”

The RDC said the  proponents, Fibeco and Greenergy, should update the project feasibility study to incorporate the revised financial and economic analysis of the project; obtain the necessary clearances from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples,  the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Environmental Management Bureau and the National Water Resources Board.

The council also said the proponents must secure endorsements from the local government units of the provinces of Bukidnon and North Cotabato, the municipality of Kibawe, and the barangays of Sanipon and Pinamula in Kibawe town.

Along with the NWRB application, the proponents attached the endorsements from 20 barangay council, four municipalities, as well as the endorsements from the RDC and the National Economic Development Authority, among the documents submitted to the Sanggunan in September.

Ricarte Salapang, Fibeco board president and Engr. Cerael Donggay, Greenergy president and CEO, wrote to Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. for the provincial board’s endorsement of their Water Permit Application No. X-Buk-003-09.

The proponents are asking the NWRB to use about 300,000 liters per second (lps) of water from the Pulangi River for the project. The NWRB required that the provincial board post the application at its bulletin board. The provincial board, however, will post only the notice if the proponent submits documentary requirements.

Board member Alfeo Baguio, committee on environmental protection and natural resources chair, said their request is not yet approved in his committee pending the submission of at least eight documents including a notarized disclosure of no pending case for violation of environmental laws by the company’s authorized official or by the proprietor and a resolution from LGUs concerned of the conduct of public consultations. The application was filed before Engr. Jimmy Apostol, Bukidnon manager of the National Irrigation Administration, the local NWRB agent. According to a certification issued by Rudy P. Brioso of the NPA-Pulangi IV Hydroelectric Power Plant on Sept. 19, no one protested or contested the application. The NPC posted the 30-day notice in its bulletin board from August 16.

Raul Alkuino, former Fibeco board president, now vice president, told MindaNews they were able to update their feasibility study with revised financial and economic analysis. Notably, not among the documents endorsed to the provincial board is a clearance from the NCIP. The proposed project has divided the IP community in Bukidnon with Fibeco saying the tribes in concerned areas are behind them. Vera Files, reported, however last month that leaders of indigenous communities in Bukidnon have refused to engage in any discussion over the planned project, until dam proponents submit a cultural impact assessment that will detail the damage the dam will cause the tribes.The dam, which according to their report, is expected to generate 300 megawatts into the Mindanao grid, and 1,256 gigawatt hours of cheap renewable energy nationwide, is touted to provide more than half the projected power shortage in Mindanao by 2014.

In its endorsement, the RDC cited that based on the 1997 version of the project’s feasibility study, the total project cost was estimated at US$348 million (PhP 9.396 billion) at P27 per US$1. Baguio said, citing the need for public hearings, that if there is no opposition from the LGUs concerned, the provincial government would most  likely support the project.

Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan in an earlier interview with MindaNews said he favors the Pulangi V hydropower dam in southern Bukidnon. As long as the project goes through democratic consultations it should be pursued, he added.Calingasan dismissed criticisms to the dam project, saying the economic benefits far outweigh the  impending displacement of Lumad communities.(Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)