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$4-million hydropower plant switched on in Vizcaya

SOLANO, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines – An ecologically friendly mini hydropower plant, the first in Cagayan Valley, was formally switched on last Wednesday, but without the presence of President Aquino who was expected to grace the event.

The $4-million Commonal-Uddiawan mini hydropower plant in mountainous Commonal village here was constructed by the US firm Smith Bell Mini Hydro Corp. in partnership with Japan’s MGL Power.

About two weeks before the inauguration, the state-run Philippine Information Agency (PIA) here said the President was expected to lead the event.

Thousands of upland villagers, who even had to hike for hours, trooped to the plant site to have a glimpse of the President but went home disappointed due to his no show. 

Top provincial officials like Rep. Carlos Padilla, Gov. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma and Vice Gov. Jose Gambito also failed to show up in the event reportedly due to previous commitments.

The plant, whose construction started in April last year, is capable of generating a maximum of 1.8 megawatts of power per hour or about 10 percent of the total electricity needs of the province. 

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The province, together with the rest of northern Luzon, depends mainly on power generated by the three-decades-old Magat Dam hydropower plant at the Isabela-Ifugao border. 

Once in full operation, the mini hydro plant is expected to help meet the increasing demand for power of the province through the Nueva Vizcaya Electric Coop. (Nuvelco). 

The plant harnesses the renewable hydropower potential of Bintawan River to generate electricity without causing severe environmental impact.

The plant delivered its first generated power to Nuvelco last Oct. 26, Smith Bell president Knud Hedeager said in a statement issued through the PIA here.                 

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