ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 4, 2011) - Way before the building of the first Philippine wind farm in the province in 2005, Ilocos Norte’s status as a center for clean, cheap and renewable energy can be traced as far back as the 1980s.
The mini-hydro power plant, built by the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative along the Agua Grande River along the Pancian and Pasaleng rivers in this town, supplies power to more than 17,000 households in Pagudpud and nearby villages in Bangui, Pasuquin and Bacarra towns.
Named after the Agua Grande river, the plant has a generating capacity of 5 megawatts but its actual production is pegged at 1 megawatt because only two of the five water turbines are running.
Engineer Renato Balintec, Inec general manager, said the amount of water flow is not enough to power all the five turbines.
A study has been commissioned for the putting up of another hydro power plant to harness water resources from the Pagudpud rivers. Built in the 1980s, the run-of-the-river type plant generates power depending on the volume of rainfall that flows down the reservoir. Power produced from the hydro power plant is cheaper by 40 percent.
The Department of Energy has encouraged development of mini-hydropower resources with the passage of the Mini-hydroelectric Power Incentives Act, which gives incentives to proponents and investors who wish to participate in the country’s mini-hydropower development program.
According to the DoE website, the Philippines has 1,132.476 megawatts in identified mini-hydropower resource potential.
Fifty-one hydropower plants operate across the country, with a combined capacity of 82.07 megawatts, a mere 7.2 percent of the identified potential.
Aside from opportunities to develop new mini-hydro projects, the government has also encouraged investments in the rehabilitation of existing plants to raise efficiency.
A proposed program encourages private developers to enter into an implementation scheme with owners of mini-hydro plants.
The DoE, in partnership with the National Electrification Administration, has so far identified seven plants for rehabilitation.With the hydropower plant, INEC is also building its capability to compete in the wholesale electricity spot market, in which electric cooperatives, distribution utilities and large-scale power buyers will be given equal opportunities to buy power at the best possible price by trading electricity via the Internet. (Cristina Arzadon)