First Gen Corporation, through its subsidiary First Gen Hydro Power Corporation (FGHPC), has signed an agreement with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) allowing the company to pursue the development of a 120 megawatt (MW) pumped storage hydroelectric facility in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija.
The signed special use agreement in protected areas (SAPA) allows First Gen to use a 36-hectare portion of the 84,000-hectare Pantabangan-Carranglan Watershed Forest Reserve for FGHPC’s Aya pumped-storage hydroelectric power project while preserving the status of the project site as a part of a protected area.
The SAPA is in accordance with Republic Act No. (RA) 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act.
The Aya project is in support of the government’s goal to meet the growing demand for power, while keeping carbon emissions low.
Under the agreement, FGHPC remitted Php69.1 million to the DENR as the SAPA fee.
“Ito ang mag-boost ng ekonomiya sa bayan ng Pantabangan dahil it will generate employment especially when the pumped storage starts operations. Ang ating LGUs [local government units], may additional income na maibabalik din sa pangangalaga at proteksyon sa watershed,” DENR assistant regional technical director forester Joselito Blanco said in a statement.
Blanco added that the watershed forest reserve will play a crucial role in supplying power to the Luzon Grid.
“We are thrilled to be able to continue our work on the Aya Pumped-Storage Project, and we are grateful for the support of our partners in DENR. We are also thankful to the [LGUs] and our stakeholders for their vote of confidence in us and for choosing us as their newest partner in protecting the watershed forest reserve,” First Gen senior vice president Dennis Gonzales said.
The Aya project is the first project to be awarded a SAPA in Central Luzon.