Catanduanes to Fully Bank on Hydro Power

The electricity requirements of Catanduanes will soon be fully met after officials recently inaugurated two new hydropower projects in the underdeveloped island province.

Local officials said that the two plants—owned and operated by Sunwest Water and Electric Company Inc., or Suweco—were built at a total cost of P540 million, collectively making them the biggest private sector investments in Catanduanes so far.

“Once fully operational, the three power plants in Catanduanes can meet 100 percent of the island’s 6.5-megawatt power demand,” said Elizaldy Co, chairman of the Sunwest Group of Companies, which owns the power firm. “When this happens, Catanduanes will be the first province in the Philippines to fully utilize ‘green’ energy.”

The two plants, with a combined capacity of 3.6 megawatts, went on line last week. Together, they supply more than half of the entire province’s power requirements.

Further expansion of another 3 MW will commence once transmission lines are fully rehabilitated.

President Aquino and Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras led the ceremonial opening of the two plants in the municipalities of San Miguel and Caramoran towns.

With the additional power capacity, it is estimated that the government will save about P250 million annually, or a total of P7.5 billion, during Suweco’s 30-year contract.

Apart from Suweco’s Catanduanes hydro investment project, the company aims to inaugurate another hydro plant in Antique by next year. Other projects in Aklan, Tuguegarao and other areas in Luzon and Visayas, with a total potential generation of 250 MW, are also being planned.

Co said that apart from helping the government save on missionary electrification expenses, Suweco’s hydropower facilities would help protect the environment through reduced greenhouse gas emissions from conventional oil-based energy sources.

According to officials, local government units in Catanduanes will also have shared revenues from the income being generated by the plants, on top of the 700 jobs that were generated during the plants’ construction phase.

By: Daxim L. Lucas
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

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