SouthCot co-op seeks contract for 25-MW hydropower plants

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/17 September)– Distribution utility South Cotabato I Electric Cooperative (Socoteco I) is pushing for the development of two hydropower plant projects with a combined maximum capacity of 25 megawatts (MW) in Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato.

Santiago Tudio, Socoteco I general manager, said they are currently working for the issuance by the Department of Energy (DoE) of the service contracts for the proposed hydropower plant projects, which would be built in two major waterfalls in Lake Sebu.

“We’re now processing the requirements for the service contracts and we’re hoping to get them before the end of the year,” he told MindaNews.

Tudio said the proposed hydropower projects comprise a 5-MW plant at the Lanon waterfalls, which is the third of Lake Sebu’s famed seven waterfalls, and another 10 to 20-MW plant in a waterfalls in Barangay Lamfugon.

Based on their initial assessment, he said the required investments for the project’s full development would reach around P145 million per MW or a total of P3.625 billion.

Last year, Socoteco I tied up with renewable energy firm Euro Hydro Power (Asia) Holdings Inc. for the development of the Lanon plant but the project has yet to proceed due their failure to acquire its service contract.

Tudio said they found out that the DoE has already awarded the service contract for the Lanon project to Renouvel Development Corporation, which is reportedly owned by former National Power Corp. executives.

Renouvel’s contract was issued for its proposed 21-MW Lanon Hydroelectric Power Project.

Based on government regulations, he said awarded or issued service contracts may not be acquired by another entity unless it already expired.

But in the case of the Lanon project, Tudio said they asked the DoE to cancel Renouvel’s contract citing the company has not made any effort to develop it in the last several years.

“The DoE asked us to comply with the requirements so we can acquire that (Renouvel’s) service contract,” he said.

After acquiring the service contract for the two projects, Tudio said they will immediately commission their feasibility studies.
He said the completed feasibility studies will be presented later on by the electric cooperative to potential investors or financiers.

As set by the Socoteco I board of directors, Tudio said they are targeting to develop the two hydropower projects within the next four years.

“This is actually a long process because we have to hurdle at least 150 permits and clearances just for one project,” he said.

He said the requirements include clearances from the National Electrification Administration, Department of Agriculture if the area covers irrigated lands and the National Commission on Indigenous People for project sites in tribal ancestral domains.

Should the projects eventually become operational, Tudio said the projected 25-MW power supply that they would generate would cover for the needs of a significant portion of Socoteco I’s franchise area.

Socoteco I covers Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat, the city of Koronadal and the municipalities of Tampakan, Tantangan, Banga, Norala, Surallah, T’boli, Sto. Niño and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.

The area, which has a daily peak demand of 33 to 35 MW, is presently experiencing daily rotational brownouts lasting three to five hours due to the reduction of its contracted supplies from the National Power Corp. (MindaNews)