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SNAP expected to start Magat plant expansion

By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
/ 12:01 AM September 17, 2012

Magat hydroelectric power plant in Isabela PHOTO FROM NAPOCOR.GOV.PH

MANILA, Philippines—To help secure adequate power supply in Luzon, the SN Aboitiz Power (SNAP) Group will push through with its planned expansion of the existing 360-megawatt Magat hydroelectric power facility in Isabela to increase its capacity by another 115 MW.

SNAP president and chief executive officer Emmanuel V. Rubio said that the company will proceed with the project once it secures a service contract from the Department of Energy.

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“We’re focused on the Magat expansion…. We’ve completed the engineering study. We’ve also submitted [an application] for a renewable energy service contract and that should start it. We just submitted it recently and we are waiting for DOE approval,” Rubio explained.

Expected to be completed by 2016, the Magat expansion may include the installation of a pumped-storage system where water stored in an upper reservoir can be released into a lower reservoir through the penstock whenever power from the plant is needed.

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When demand for electricity is low, the turbines spin backward and pump the water back up into the upper reservoir, enabling more efficient water use.

Rubio did not disclose investment figures and funding requirements, but he earlier said that the company’s existing lenders—one of which is the World Bank’s private sector investment arm International Finance Corp.—had already expressed interest in funding the Magat expansion.

Meanwhile, the company expects to complete the rehabilitation of the Binga hydropower plant in Benguet by July 2013, or earlier than the initial target of end-2013, Rubio said.

“We’re also now on the second to the last unit of rehabilitation in Binga, and it’s ahead of schedule. We expect Binga to be fully rehabilitated by July of 2013. So both Binga and Ambuklao will now be brand-new,” he said.

Rubio further disclosed that the capacity of Binga after the rehabilitation activities could be higher than the target of 120 MW.

He earlier said that the company expected to raise it to as much as 130 MW.

SNAP, a joint venture of SN Power of Norway and Aboitiz Power Corp., was able to acquire from the government the Binga plant, which was then operating only at a 100 MW, and the Ambuklao hydropower facilities, when the power plants were auctioned off in 2007 under the government’s power sector privatization program.

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Total investment in the rehabilitation of both the Ambuklao and Binga facilities stood at $290 million.

The Binga project began in 2010, requiring the construction of a new intake at higher elevation, new headrace, replacement and modernization of plant control system and replacement of electro-mechanical components.

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TAGS: Energy, expansion, Magat power plant, Philippines, power supply, SN Aboitiz Power
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