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Aquino turns on Catanduanes power plants

The Hitoma 1 and Solong mini-hydroelectric power plants inaugurated by President Benigno Aquino III in Bato, Catanduanes, the other day are expected to deliver as much as 3.6 megawatts of electric power during the wet season in a normal year.

The renewable energy plants were developed by Sunwest Water and Electric (Suweco) at a combined cost of P515 million.

Last year, Suweco’s plants delivered a total of 16,434 megawatt-hours to the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, which has more than 35,000 customers. This has relieved rate payers outside the island of more than P100 million in subsidies with the displacement of bunker and diesel-fired generation, Suweco president Jose Silvestre Natividad said.

The Solong and Hitoma plants started soft operations in late 2010 and early 2011, respectively. These are the first-ever hydropower projects to be undertaken by a private developer in the small-island grids serviced by the special power utilities group (SPUG) of the National Power Corp. All other hydro developments in the SPUG areas were developed either by electric cooperatives, local government units or both.

Sunwest Group’s chair Elizaldy Co said the company intends to develop two more hydropower sites in Catanduanes—Hitoma 02 and Kapipian—when demand warrants, and would make the province the first in the Philippines to source most of its power from renewable energy sources.

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