|By ERNAN BALDOMERO
SAN JOSE, Antique – The launching of the Villa Siga Mini-hydro project was graced by Department of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo.
The Villa Siga project is the first ever hydropower plant in Panay Island. It is located in Brgy. Igsoro, Bugasong town.
National Power Corp. (Napocor) President Cyril Del Callar also graced the event.
It was held at the Antique Electric Cooperative (Anteco) compound. Local officials led by Cong. Exequiel Javier, Gov. Salvacion Perez and Vice Gov. Rhodora Cadiao attended the grand launching.
Reyes signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Elizaldy Co, chief executive officer of Sun West Water and Electric Co. (Suweco), and municipal mayors of Bugasong, Laua-an, and Barbaza where the project will be constructed.
Javier, Perez and Anteco General Manager Ludovico Lim witnessed the signing.
Villa Siga mini-hydro project is one of the four projects to be undertaken by Suweco. It aims to produce eight megawatt (MW) of power to supplement the 12 MW demand of Antique.
Other projects are located in Brgy. San Ramon, Barbaza and Brgy. Guiamon, Laua-an. Suweco experts said the projects are expected to generate 30,000,000 kilowatt per hour of electricity annually and construction cost is P1.1 billion. The project will be finished after two years.
The mini-hydro power plant will replace 50,200 barrels of fuel normally used in oil fired power plant. This will result to a projected annual foreign exchange savings of P292 million ($6.8 million).
The hydro project will lessen carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by 17,100 tons a year.
Suweco was also granted a license to construct and operate a mini-hydro facility in Antique with an eight MW generating capacity. The generated electricity will be sold directly to Anteco, the sole electricity provider in the province.
Reyes said the mini-hydro project will help stabilize the power crisis in Panay. He also cited other renewable energy projects – Timbahan hydropower project in Madalag, Aklan and the hydroelectric project in Libacao, also in Aklan.
Meanwhile, Lagdameo said Antique is leading the way for the advocacy on renewable energy. Lagdameo, president of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is a vocal critic of the proposed coal-fired power plant in Iloilo.
Lagdameo said there is no real shortage of electricity in Panay. In the contrary, he claimed there is power surplus in the island until 2010 but there would be a gradual decrease of energy starting 2011.
He said power shortage is not true. He blamed the problem on mismanagement and leadership crisis.
Javier, chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee said he would do his share in Congress by passing legislation exempting electric cooperatives from income tax, putting a cap on Value Added Tax (VAT) payers, and removing VAT from system’s loss and subsidies to lifeline consumers.
Lagdameo said the operation of the mini-hydro power plant will help solve the expected power crisis. He reiterated his strong opposition to coal powered plant saying it will bring hazard not only to the environment but also to the people.
“Clean coal is a misnomer. It kills more people every year compared to drunken rivers and murderers,” Lagdameo said./PN