Reduces electricity rates. Improves power quality. Aids distribution utility to comply with energy law.
Do you believe these can also be the benefits of a canal facility primarily being used for irrigation? At the Upper Chico river Irrigation System (UCRIS) in Tabuk City, Kalinga, the sure answer is yes.
While being used as an irrigation facility, the Tabuk Supply Canal 1 of UCRIS is being tapped for hydropower generation by the Bulanao Hydro Electric Power Plant (BHEPP), located in Purok 7 of Brgy. Bulanao.
The BHEPP is classified as a mini-hydro power plant that generates power through the running water from the 22-meter drop of the UCRIS canal diverted to run a turbine and afterwards re-diverted to the irrigation canal for irrigation use.
The first of its kind in the region, the BHEPP went into operation on February 28, 2016 initially producing .830 megawatt. This is being sold to the Kalinga-Apayao Electric Cooperative (KAELCO) with which the DPJ Engineers and Consultants, developer of the BHEPP, signed an energy supply contract.
Support to electricity distributor
“BHEPP helps reduce electricity rates, since the price per kilowatt-hour (kwh) does not include any Transmission Cost which is at around P1.50-2.00/kwh. BHEPP is directly embedded to KAELCO, without going through NGCP’s transmission lines. Hence, no transmission cost and this could translate to about P0.30 per kwh savings for the consumers,” said Engr. Leonardo Egcatan of KAELCO.
As of October 2019, the said hydropower-generating irrigation canal supplies 10.63% of the total demand of the KAELCO. The KAELCO provides energy to all towns of Kalinga including Tabuk City and three of the seven municipalities of Apayao.
Egcatan added that the proximity of the facility improves power quality, because the nearer the distribution utility such as KAELCO to the generator plant, the voltage regulation is better.
Also, BHEPP helps KAELCO comply with the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) requirement under the Renewable Energy Law or RA 9513, which requires distribution utilities and electricity suppliers to source or produce a certain share of electricity from eligible renewable resources which include hydropower.
Additional income for NIA
With the implementation of free irrigation law, the irrigation service fee (ISF) which used to be the main source of income of NIA as a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) was abolished for all farmers with landholdings of eight (8) hectares and below. As such, income of NIA-CAR has been very minimal so that revenue from other sources is very much welcome.
According to Engr. Noly Sabado, head of the Operations Section of Kalinga IMO, the BHEPP remits P50,000 monthly to NIA through Kalinga Irrigation Management Office (IMO), excluding months where there is scheduled irrigation cut-off for repair and maintenance during which the plant cannot generate electricity. In 2018, remittances from the BHEPP totaled to more than P400,000.00, constituting 11% of the total revenue of NIA-CAR for the year.
Sabado also said that the BHEPP management has been always willing to provide assistance during maintenance activities of the main canal of UCRIS.
Benefit to the Host Community
The management of BHEPP will soon be remitting particular amount directly to the host LGU (Brgy. Bulanao as the host community, Tabuk as the host city and LGU Kalinga as the host province) in compliance to policies and laws which mandates generation companies/energy resource developers to set aside one centavo per kilowatt-hour (P0.01/kwh) of the electricity sales as financial benefit to the host LGU.
According to the Treasury Office of Tabuk City, the BHEPP will be remitting its financial benefit to the city pending the resolution of the City Council which is a requirement for the creation of an account specifically for the said benefit. #Mylene Malecdan
Photo Caption: Multi-purpose. Irrigation water from the Tabuk Supply Canal 1 of Upper Chico River Irrigation System (UCRIS) in Tabuk City, Kalinga passes through the penstock pipe and turbines of Bulanao Hydroelectric Power Plant (BHEPP) generating about .800 megawatt of power then redirected to the irrigation canal towards the ricefields.