Ambuklao hydro power plant rehabilitation to be delayed for a year
- Donnabelle L. Gatdula () - July 9, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The rehabilitation of the Ambuklao hydroelectric power plant in Benguet province will be extended to the last quarter of 2011 from the earlier target of end-2010, the plant’s owner said yesterday.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Aboitiz Power Corp. (APC) said the delay in the completion of the repair works was due to some technical problems.

“SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet Inc. (SNAP-Benguet), the owner of the Ambuklao plant, has encountered challenges in completing the plugging of the existing plant headrace tunnel needed to connect a new water intake and tunnel to the turbines for the generation of electricity,” the company said.

SNAP-Benguet is a joint venture between SN Power of Norway and APC, the holding firm for the power-related interests of the Aboitiz Group.

APC said the initial attempt to close the old headrace tunnel using concrete plug has proven difficult due to the unexpected volume of sediments (silt and clay) in the tunnel compounded by the effects of typhoon Pepeng which hit Northern Luzon late last year.

The company said SNAP-Benguet will instead construct a new extended headrace tunnel to allow water to flow through to the new turbines, and consequently abandon the old tunnel.

“With the construction of the new headrace tunnel, the Ambuklao plant is expected to be completed by the last quarter of 2011 when all three units are operating, instead of end-2010 as earlier reported,” it said.

The rehab program, involving civil and electro-mechanical activities, is currently 75 percent complete.

The 75-megawatt Ambuklao plant was shut down by the National Power Corp. (Napocor) in 1999 due to technical problems and has not operated since. Upon its acquisition of the plant in late 2007, SNAP-Benguet immediately undertook rehabilitation activities to bring the plant back to operation.

“We have always understood the challenges involved in rehabilitating the Ambuklao plant which has not operated for more than 10 years,” SNAP-Benguet chief executive officer Emmanuel V. Rubio said.

“Despite the current challenges, we are committed to restore the Ambuklao plant and enable it to generate at higher capacity. We believe that the construction of a new headrace tunnel will ensure completion of the rehabilitation of the Ambuklao plant,” he added.

Upon rehabilitation, the Ambuklao plant will be capable of 105 MW of producing renewable energy to significantly augment the supply of electrical power to the Luzon grid.

SNAP-Benguet submitted the highest bid of $325 million for the acquisition of the Ambuklao plant and the 100-MW Binga hydroelectric power plant also located in Itogon, Benguet. The plants were sold as a package in a public bidding held on Nov. 28, 2007.

ABOITIZ GROUP ABOITIZ POWER CORP ABOITIZ POWER-BENGUET INC AMBUKLAO BENGUET EMMANUEL V NATIONAL POWER CORP PLANT POWER TUNNEL
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