Philippines creating unit to study small hydropower development at irrigation sites

The Philippines National Irrigation Administration (NIA), according to NIA administrator Peter Lavina, is working with the Philippine National Oil Company Renewables Corp. to create a new unit to study the potential of developing small hydropower projects in over 300 irrigation facilities across the country.

A report today in the Manila-based Malaya Business Insight quoted Lavina’s statement from comments he made at the Pandesal Forum, in Quezon City, Philippines. The forum is held at Kamuning Bakery, a pandesal bakery turned into political forum for local and national politicians. Pandesal – pan de suelo – is bread baked on the floor of the oven rather than in pans.

Lavina did not define the potential capacity or cost of each potential project.

“We have been receiving several (partnership proposals from) both foreign and local companies,” Lavina is quoted as saying in the report. “But we have not reviewed the so-called 300 sites all over the country that has potential for hydro, we are just creating a new unit within NIA to tackle this one.”

Lavina also reportedly said funding for the planned developments could come from the sale of hydropower projects. reported earlier this week that the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp., owned and managed by the Philippines’ state-run National Power Corp. (NAPCOR), is awaiting results from a study it commissioned on how to best move from federally owned power generation facilities towards privatization.

The 360-MW Magat hydroelectric power plant in Isabela was the first federally-owned hydropower project to undergo the privatization process. In 2007, SN Aboitiz Power-Magat Inc., a joint venture between local company Aboitiz Power and Norwegian firm SN Power, paid an estimated US$530 million to NAPCOR for the project.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for

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