Philippine Daily Inquirer - - BUSINESS - By Ben O. de Vera @ben­de­v­er­aINQ

The re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the state-owned Na­tional Power Corp.’s ( Napocor) Agus-Pu­langi hy­dro­elec­tric power plants in Min­danao will cost P54 bil­lion, fund­ing for which the gov­ern­ment plans to source from China, the Depart­ment of Fi­nance said yes­ter­day.

Since re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing the fa­cil­ity will not only in­crease its ca­pac­ity but also add 30 years to its ser­vice life, Napocor pres­i­dent Pio Be­navidez was quoted by the DOF as say­ing that the gov­ern­ment needed to take ad­van­tage of the fact that there would be an ex­pected power over­sup­ply in Min­danao in the next three years.

As such, Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Car­los G. Dominguez III told Be­na­vides: “Let us do it now [be­cause] we are not un­der pres­sure.”

Un­der the Napocor’s plan, the gov­ern­ment will first re­ha­bil­i­tate the old­est, 40year-old Agus 6, to be fol­lowed by the 37-year-old Agus 2 and 34-year-old Agus 7. Agus 4 and 5 as well as Pu­langi 4 are 31 years old, while Agus 1 is op­er­at­ing for 25 years now.

“The re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of units 3-5 of Agus 6 costs around $172.5 million; Agus 2, $207 million; Agus 7, $62.1 million; Agus 4 and 5, $245.07 million; Pu­langi 4, $293.25 million, and Agus 1, $92 million,” or a to­tal of $1.07 bil­lion, the DOF said.

At present, the plants op­er­ate at about 60 per­cent of their more than 900megawatt rated ca­pac­ity, Be­na­vides said.

“The P54 bil­lion would fi­nance the re­place­ment of old trans­form­ers as well as old elec­tri­cal equip­ment to make these fa­cil­i­ties more re­li­able. The re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion could take from four to five years and would in­crease the to­tal ca­pac­ity by an av­er­age of 10 per­cent for each fa­cil­ity. Af­ter the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, to­tal ca­pac­ity will reach more than 1,000 megawatts,” ac­cord­ing to Be­na­vides.

For Be­na­vides, the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion should be done in phases be­cause the fa­cil­i­ties could not be shut down si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

Dominguez told re­porters last week that the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Agus River hy­dro­elec­tric power sys­tem would be in­cluded in the sec­ond bas­ket of six to eight projects to be pitched for Chi­nese fi­nanc­ing.

“I told the Chi­nese

[that Agus re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion] is very im­por­tant for us be­cause no mat­ter how much in­fra­struc­ture you have, if you don’t have power it doesn’t work right,” Dominguez said.

The Philip­pine and Chi­nese gov­ern­ments ear­lier iden­ti­fied the first batch of projects to be funded by China, which in­cluded the P4.6bil­lion Binondo-In­tra­muros and P1.4-bil­lion Estrella-Pan­ta­leon bridges in Manila, which will be fi­nanced by grants; the P10.9-bil­lion New Cen­ten­nial Wa­ter SourceKaliwa Dam project, and the P2.7-bil­lion Chico River Pump Ir­ri­ga­tion project in Ca­gayan and Kalinga provinces. Also part of the ini­tial batch of projects were the el­e­vated ex­press­way in Davao City, the con­struc­tion of an in­dus­trial park and two drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment will also fi­nance four more Philip­pine projects, namely the re­con­struc­tion of Marawi un­der a 20-million-ren­minbi or $3-million do­na­tion in kind; Panay-Guimaras-Ne­gros Is­land bridges; the pro­vi­sions un­der the en­force­ment and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment be­tween Manila and Bei­jing, and con­struc­tion of an agri­cul­ture tech­ni­cal cen­ter.

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