BY LEANDER C. DOMINGO
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya (January 4, 2024)—The provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya has expressed dismay over the reported transaction by a local power company to sell its produced energy to another grid instead of the local cooperative in the province.
Governor Jose “Jing” Gambito said his office was informed that the Matuno River Hydroelectric Power Plant (HePP) located in Bambang town is set for commercial operation within the first quarter of 2024.
“To our dismay including the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial legislative board) and the people of Nueva Vizcaya, we were informed that the energy produced by the project will be delivered to other grid and not to Nueva Vizcaya,” Gambito said.
He added that this is a deviation from the previous agreement “we have with the developer that the priority dispatch should be within [Nueva] Vizcaya.”
Owned by Magis Energy Holdings (MEH), the Matuno River HePP is an 8.66-megawatt run-of-river project situated in Barangay Manamtam in Bambang town, an area greatly prone to precipitation.
The hydropower plant which draws energy from the Matuno River, a tributary of the Magat Dam, reportedly had its commissioning beginning in July 2023.
In its technical specifics, MEH said the Matuno River HePP efficiency is evident in its three high-caliber Global Hydro Energy Kaplan-type hydropower turbines, each maintaining a capacity of 2.88 megawatts with turbines that harness power from the robust Ogee crest dam.
The project will provide communities with 43 Gigawatt hours of electricity yearly through a 12-kilometer transmission line connected to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines or NGCP in its Bayombong substation.
MEH said the Maturo River HePP project is set to contribute to mitigating the worldwide problem of climate change and environmental crisis through a decrease of an estimated 31,336 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
At the same time, MEH said the project is set to generate local employment through sustainable hydroelectricity practices, and even formed an agreement with the National Irrigation Authority which promises water irrigation of nearby farmlands within the area, alongside support for said farmers.
In his letter to administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda of the National Electrification Administration, dated January 2, 2023, Gambito said the project has long been monitored by the people of Nueva Vizcaya.
Gambito said he firmly believes that the Novo Vizcayanos should benefit from the power produced by the project considering that all water resources of the said project came from Nueva Vizcaya.
If the company pursues selling the produced energy to the outside grid “we have no other option but to take all appropriate legal remedies to protect the interest of the people I serve,” he added.
Also in his letter to Ruben Diego Picardo, president of Taft Hydro Corp. Matuno Hydro Power of Magis Energy Holdings, the governor requested that the Nueva Vizcaya Electric Coop. (Nuvelco) should be given priority in the delivery of electric power with a cost much lower than what is offered in the market.
Gambito noted that the Nuvelco is being hounded and barraged with numerous complaints because of the high power rate, and that his office was strongly requested to act on behalf of more than 500,000 Novo Vizcayanos on this dilemma.
He also noted that for the past few months, the power rate in the province reached an unprecedented peak of P21 per kilowatt.
“We welcome this project as this will harness and maximize renewable resources in the province, more particularly, it will provide a reasonable and reliable electric service,” he added.
However, the governor reiterated that since the project is located in Nueva Vizcaya and the water that will power the plant comes from the province, “we believe that the Novo Vizcayaons should benefit from the power that will be produced.”
Meanwhile, the governor has requested the provincial board through the committee on rules for legislative support on the allocation of power supply to be produced by the Matuno River HePP.