The region’s vast hydro-power potential is estimated at 3,580 MW, which is about 27 percent of the country’s hydro-power potential. If fully harnessed, the region could contribute some US$ 1.2 Billion per annum savings from imported fuels. Currently, hydro-power generation in the region is merely 207 MW (accounted by 100 MW Binga Dam, 70 MW Bakun Hydro and 14 IPP mini-hydro plants). This does not include the presently inoperational 75 MW Ambuklao HEP which was heavily damaged by the 1990 earthquake and heavy siltation. Being the watershed cradle of Northern Luzon, CAR feeds the 360 MW Magat Dam in Isabela (Cagayan Region) and the 345 MW San Roque Dam in Pangasinan (Ilocos Region). Also, the planned Palsiguan Dam (Ilocos Norte) intends to divert water from Abra’s Tineg River.
The DOE predicts that the Luzon power requirement would increase from 8,302 MW in 2006 to 9,721 MW by 2010. CAR’s existing hydro-power plants generated 622.7 MWh in 2006, which is about 2.8 percent of Luzon Grid’s power generation. The increasing demand for power, which the DOE predicts to reach critical levels by 2010, coupled with the rising cost of oil, remains to be a key opportunity for CAR to develop its indigenous hydro and geothermal power potentials. These indigenous sources when developed, will not only translate into savings from the increasingly expensive imported oil, but more importantly provide impetus for local development through revenue shares (as provided for in by ER 1-94), and its consequent effects on local consumption.
Cognizant of these potentials, the RDC prepared the Cordillera Energy Producer Master Plan (CEPMP) which advocates a strategy to develop small scale hydro-power projects. These hydro-power projects are proposed to be developed by local power corporations which are essentially a partnership between LGUs and the private sector.
All poblaciones in CAR are covered by rural electrification since 1997. The NEA’s “ILAW” Project covered an additional 18 barangays, however, there are still 84 remote barangays that remain not served. Off-grid areas were energized through Micro Hydro Projects and Solar Home System of DOE, NEA, PNOC, and some NGOs.
A number of issues currently constrain hydro-power development and rural electrification in the region: The failed Chico River Dam Project tend to make local residents view power project with distrust, while potential investors are concerned with possible social unrests that may affect power projects. On the other hand, the installation of distribution lines to CAR’s remote and dispersed communities is not financially viable, but these may be serviced with the use of small scale new and renewable energy (NRE) sources like solar and other micro schemes.
The region aims to be the leading producer of hydro-based energy ensuring sustainable development while assuring equity in development. It aims to attain the following key targets: 1) increase the region’s installed capacity by 250 MW by 2010, thereby increase CAR’s contribution to the Luzon grid by at least four percent; and 2) attain a 100 percent barangay and household service coverage by 2010.
The development of small-scale hydro power plants and expansion/upgrading of transmission lines shall be pursued. Specifically, the rehabilitation of the Ambuklao and Binga HEPs shall be facilitated, and put these back to full operation. LGUs with power potentials shall be assisted in establishing their own local power corporation (LPC), partner with qualified private companies, and develop their power resources.
Rural electrification shall be expanded to unserved barangays and unconnected households. NRE sources such as solar, wind, and other micro schemes shall be adopted in remote barangays where the construction of traditional distribution lines would be technically difficult and expensive.
3.6.4 Priority Programs/Projects
Small Scale Hydro-Power Projects. CEPMP recommended priority projects shall be pursued by the various LPCs, of which at least one shall be established within 2008 to 2010. At least two DE/FS on priority Mini Hydro Projects shall also be undertaken before 2010.
Expansion and Modernization of Existing Power and Transmission Facilities.
The privatization of the Ambuklao and Binga HEP and their rehabilitation shall be facilitated during the plan period. Likewise, the following major power transmission lines and substations shall be pursued: a) Binga-San Manuel 230kV T/L Upgrading Project, b) Luzon Substation Expansion, and c) La Trinidad-Calot 69kV T/L Upgrading. The installation of missionary transmission lines to unserved rapidly urbanizing centers shall be worked out.
Rural Electrification Program. In line with PGMA’s “Electricity & Water for All” thrust, the NEA, through the various electric cooperatives, shall embark on an expansion of local distribution lines, particularly to 84 barangays that are still unserved. Where the installation of conventional lines are technically difficult or expensive, the utilization of NRE projects such as micro-hydro, solar, wind and biogas sources shall be resorted to.