By Freddie Lazaro
BANGUED, Abra — The indigenous peoples (IPs) have approved the proposed first-of-its-kind 500-megawatt Pump Storage Hydroelectric Project in Kibungan, Benguet province.
A consensus was arrived at by the indigenous peoples of the Kibungan Ancestral Domain, giving their consent to the project via the government-required Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
The renewable energy project according to the proponent — Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (Coheco) Badeo Corporation –will usher in countless benefits to the environment and development in the area because aside from very minute minimal impact to the environment, the project will generate 500 megawatts of power.
The 345-megawatt San Roque Multipurpose Dam built in 1998 in San Manuel, Pangasinan which has headwaters along the Agno River in Benguet has submerged a vast area both in Benguet and Pangasinan, while the Ambuclao dam in Bokod, also in Benguet built in the ’70s submerged indigenous villages.
The P35-billion Kibungan Pump Storage Hydroelectric Project is projected to make a major contribution to the country’s source of energy, livelihood and tourism in Benguet even in the remotest communities in Kibungan.
The project will utilize an impounding facility on a 15.2-hectare land located on a higher elevation, and capable of producing more power that will emanate from the pressure created by the higher source of water.
The pumped hydroelectric storage is the most widely adopted utility-scale electricity storage technology, Coheco Badeo Corporation said. By storing electricity, PHES facilities can protect the power system from outages. It also provides the most mature and commercially available solution to bulk electricity and releasing it during peak hours with low operation and maintenance cost, and high reliability.
The “strength” of 3,200 cubic meters of water all coming from the Amburayan river to sustain the project, according to the builders, will not deprive the community of their supply.
With the huge step obtained when the indigenous peoples in Kibungan, Benguet consented of the one-of-its-kind project, the proponent Coheco Badeo Corporation said, a new dawn is awaiting Benguet perhaps as the newest “hub” for renewable energy in the Cordillera, aside from its tourism potential as an eco-tourism destination