NIA eyes more hydropower projects

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The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said it is keen on developing and constructing more hydropower projects on its existing irrigation systems and future irrigation projects all over the country.

Citing the previous studies it conducted, the NIA said there are about 357 potential irrigation sites for hydropower in the country.

“This means that the NIA, aside from providing sustainable and efficient irrigation services, can actually be an active partner for power generation,” NIA Administrator Ricardo R. Visaya said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Visaya led signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA), together with Nascent Technologies Corp., for the development and construction of the 40-megawatt (MW) Barit Irrigation Discharge Hydroelectric Power plant pegged at P27.6 million.

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The NIA chief cited Rizal Hydropower Project as one of the successful partnerships in hydropower development projects. The 1-MW hydropower started its commercial operation this year. It is near the main canal of Pampanga River Irrigation System (PRIS) in Nueva Ecija.

“This is part of the continuous effort of the agency to support the administration in providing more renewable-energy sources, that will not just only boost NIA’s income, but also will contribute to the provision of electricity in far-flung communities in the country,” Visaya said.

Other ongoing hydropower projects include the 8.5-MW Maris Main (South) Canal Hydroelectric Power in Isabela with target commercial operation in February 2018.

The MOA for both Marbel No. 1 Mini Hydropower Project in South Cotabato and Butao Irrigation Drop Mini Hydropower Project in Pangasinan were approved and signed by the NIA, with the developers.

Negotiations are still on the table for 630-kilowatt Muñoz Hydropower Project in Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System, Nueva Ecija; the 1 MW Bulanao Mini-Hydropower Plant in Chico River Irrigation System, Kalinga; 3.6-MW Addalam Hydroelectric Project in Addalam River Irrigation Project, Quirino, in which comprehensive study was conducted last year; and Agno RIS  main canal in Agno River Integrated System, Pangasinan.

Visaya made an assurance to farmers that the mini hydros will not affect irrigation component as the water will just pass through the irrigation canal.

“There is no conflict with power generation and irrigation it is just a matter of getting the most out of our water resource. We are optimistic that this endeavor will take off and will ensure smooth implementation and optimum results,” he said.

The development and construction of hydropower projects is consistent with Presidential Decree 552, which allows the NIA to use and control water resources primarily for irrigation and for hydropower.

Visaya said the NIA has issued Memorandum Circular 55 that defines the guidelines on mini hydropower plants in its irrigation canals and systems.

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