TUBA, Benguet, Philippines?Mining is synonymous to livelihood for residents in this town, but as mountains are reduced to rubble to collect precious ore, Benguet starts to look for investors who will preserve its resources.
?Mining [here] deserves a second look [because of its impact] on our environment and indigenous peoples. We welcome investors who will come to protect the environment,? Governor Nestor Fongwan says during a recent groundbreaking ceremony for a power plant here.
One of the investments the province has welcomed is clean energy, with power firms tapping Benguet?s network of waterways.
Hedcor Inc., a subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Corp., will build its 3.8-megawatt Irisan 1 hydroelectric power plant in Barangay (village) Tadiangan to generate an estimated 11 million kilowatt-hour (kWh) of clean and renewable energy annually.
?[It?s fueled by water so] there?s no emission, no ill effect on the environment, unlike fossil-fired or coal or diesel [which] have emissions that destroy the ozone layer because they emit greenhouse gasses,? says Chris Faelnar, Hedcor senior vice president.
Irisan 1 is Hedcor?s 11th facility in Benguet and will complement the existing Irisan 3 to produce power for the Tuba grid.
The company also operates four plants in the capital La Trinidad, three plants in Bakun town, and one plant each in Itogon and Sablan towns. The 10 hydropower plants produce a combined 34.75 megawatts of run-of-the river electricity.
?I have seen firsthand how Hedcor contributed to the economic progress of La Trinidad when I was mayor,? Fongwan says.
Four generating facilities located in Barangay Bineng contributed over P49 million to the town from 1992 to 2009, he says.
Hedcor is mandated to produce clean energy as the company expands its operation to address the looming energy crisis, Faelnar says.
?We?re still okay; we still have the capacity. But it depends on the percentage of the load growth of Luzon. By 2013 [energy resources] may be depleted,? he says.
?There?s a need to build [more hydropower plants]. Problem here is we are a little bit late because building a power station will take three to four years,? he says.