The Department of Energy (DOE) has advised Aboitiz Power Corporation subsidiary Hedcor to continue operating its three run-of-river hydroelectric power plants in Bakun, Benguet following an earlier cease and desist order (CDO) from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
AboitizPower cited a letter from the DOE dated June 25 advising Hedcor to keep its FLS Hydro, Lon-oy Hydro, and Lower Labay Hydro Plants running. This is in line with the agency’s mandate under Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act “to ensure the quality, reliability, security, and affordability of the supply of electric power especially during this period of health pandemic.”
The DOE advised Hedcor to continue operating the three hydroelectric plants given the “shortage of available capacity from the grid caused by the unavailability of large power plants as well as derated operation of operating power plants aside from the high system peak demand due to high ambient temperature.”
The DOE likewise reiterated its advisory dated March 2 entitled, “Ensuring Reliable and Stable Electric Power Supply during the Government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Program” enjoining all power generation companies to ensure availability of power supply at the maximum dependable capacities of respective generation facilities and provide the necessary support for COVID-19 vaccine cold storage and healthcare facilities, as well as installing backup power supply, as needed.
Furthermore, DOE pointed out that as the Energy Regulation 1-94 (ER 1-94) funds are dependent on the kWh generated by power plants, stoppage of operation of power facilities will affect the mobilization of the said funds for COVID-19 response.
“We recognize the concerns of our Bakun IP (indigenous peoples) community and our doors remain open for dialogue. We believe that the tongtongan is crucial to the resolution of this issue, not only to protect the welfare of our [IPs], but also to fulfill our contribution to ensuring the availability and reliability of power supply for the country,” Hedcor Vice President for Corporate Services Noreen Vicencio said in a statement.
Hedcor is ready and willing to sit in a tongtongan with the Bakun IPs at the soonest possible time to address issues and concerns and to realize a way forward that sustains the gains and strengthens the relationship carefully built over the past three decades.
Based on the NCIP’s CDO, indigenous groups issued a resolution of non-consent in April, saying that its memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Hedcor highly favors the power firm. The MOA was also said to have been used to exert pressure on the town’s local government to favor the company’s demands.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, earlier called on the NCIP and the DOE to help resolve the matter in light of the Luzon Grid’s situation and the pandemic.
Photo from AboitizPower-Hedcor website.