Korea-backed firm to pursue P12-B hydro project | Inquirer Business

Korea-backed firm to pursue P12-B hydro project

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—Despite protests, a home-grown corporation has partnered with two South Korean companies to develop a mini-hydro facility that is expected to help provide clean and cheap electricity for the province.

“We are ready to invest P12 billion in building this mini-hydro facility,” said Jingboy Atonen, legal counsel of the Cordillera Hydro Electric Power Corp. (Coheco).

The Department of Energy awarded the project in April to Coheco, which intends to tap part of the Amburayan River in Kapangan town for a 60-MW facility.


Coheco’s main office is based in Kapangan town in Benguet with satellite offices in La Trinidad and Makati City. Coheco is 60-percent Filipino-owned and 40-percent South Korean, said Atonen, who hails from Kibungan town.


Coheco’s partners are Daewoo Engineering, Procurement and Construction and DAELIM Industrial Co. Ltd., which, Atonen said, have a track record in building “high-end hydro projects.”

The P12-billion investment includes not only the cost of the facility but also access roads, a potable waterworks system and reforestation projects, which the company had promised to raise for the affected communities in Kapangan and Kibungan.

The facility is described as “a run-off river-type” plant because it does not entail damming part of the Amburayan River.

Instead of a dam, engineers will build a seven-meter high weir in the villages of Cuba, Beling-Belis and Balakbak in Kapangan. Impounded water from this weir is then diverted to a nine-kilometer tunnel, which exits at the neighboring village of Badeo in Kibungan where a surge tank and penstock will run two turbines in a powerhouse.

Addressing fears that the diverted water would dry up sections of the downstream river, Atonen said engineers have designed the weir in such a way that it would not impede the flow of at least 10 percent of the river during the dry months.

Despite what he described as a long and tedious process of consultation which began in 2010, Coheco, Atonen said, is optimistic it can start building the facility in the first quarter of 2014.


“We can begin hiring during the last quarter of this year,” he said. “And as we promised during past community consultations, the company will hire locals as workers.”

Atonen based his optimism on the results of two consultative assemblies of Kapangan and Kibungan elders gathered by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

On April 22, Kapangan elders consented to the project. Of the 15 villages in Kapangan, nine voted for the project. The affected villages of Badeo and Tacadang in Kibungan passed resolutions of consent on April 23.

Atonen said Kibungan officials and residents were encouraged by neighboring Bakun town, which has been hosting a mini-hydro facility since the 1990s. He cited Bakun’s share from national wealth tax and other benefits such as improved road access and jobs for some locals.

But protests against the project continue. The opposition is headed by lawyer Cruzaldo Bacduyan, counsel of the Amburayan Ancestral Land Owners Association Inc. He also represents a company called the Green Indigenous Environment Development Corp. (Giedco).

Bacduyan said even if more villages approved the project, the combined population of the villages opposed to the power facility is collectively bigger.

He said they continue to oppose the project because the tunnel, which Coheco plans to build to divert water to its surge tank, would disturb, if not destroy, vital water tables.

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Giedco has expressed interest in building two mini-hydro projects in a tributary of the Amburayan River.

TAGS: Business, power sector

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