NorthCot in talks with investors to put up hydro, solar power plants

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/3 April)– The provincial government of North Cotabato is exploring hydro and solar power as alternative energy sources to address the supply shortage in the province in the long term, Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza said Tuesday.
Currently, the towns of Pikit, Pigcawayan, Alamada, Libungan, Midsayap and Aleosan or known as the P-PALMA Alliance are experiencing an average of 10-hour daily power curtailment.

The rest of the towns in North Cotabato and this city are also experiencing daily brownouts lasting an average of seven hours.

Mendoza told MindaNews that the provincial government has been talking to some investors on the possibility of developing a hydropower plant powered by the Malitubog-Maridagao (Malmar) irrigation dam in Carmen town.

“Malmar is being studied now. Since we have that big dam for irrigation, we might as well maximize the water [for a hydropower plant],” she said.
Mendoza said they are also considering using solar energy to augment the dwindling power supply in the province.

In fact, Korean investors have already expressed their interests in putting up a solar-powered plant in the province, she disclosed.
Mendoza said a team from the Provincial Planning and Development Office has been tasked to visit the existing project of the Koreans in Dapitan City and in Tanay, Rizal.

The governor admitted that developing solar power is expensive, ”but in the long run we can save so much.”
She appealed to her constituents to be patient, saying: “Even if you have this study, it doesn’t mean that you will have available power tomorrow. It takes years. But what is important is that we have started.”

The governor also explained that even if she will have the commitment of the investors, it is important that a comprehensive data should be made available first.

Besides hydro and solar as potential energy sources, Mendoza said that they are also considering biomass as an alternative source of energy.

The province has a lot of rice mills, she said, noting their wastes can produce biomass energy.
For the development of potential alternative energy sources, Mendoza said they have already forwarded the raw data to prospective investors for review.

“Because we don’t have the expertise to analyze as well as the technology. Then we will know what’s the timeline, how much will it cost, how many years to build, the capitalization. These are the things that will follow.”

Mendoza said they are not considering the construction of a coal-fired power plant in the province as an option to address the area’s power problem.

“We are for clean energy,” she noted.

Immediate option

While studies are still underway, Mendoza said the provincial government has already signified its interest last month to lease a generator set as an immediate option to ease the outage in the area.

Aside from the generator set, she also bared that the provincial government supports the case filed by Kidapawan City Vice Mayor Joseph Evangelista against the Department of Energy and power executives for not acting on calls to allocate 25 percent of the output of the geothermal power plant to this city and to the province.

Mendoza said the 25 percent allocation to the host community, which is the province, “should not be debated” since it is under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

 The civil case, which was filed before the Regional Trial Court Branch 23 here in April 2012, is to compel the DOE, National Power Corporation and the Lopez-owned Energy Development Corporation to supply the city with 25 percent of the electricity produced by the geothermal plant in this city. (Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)