ILOILO CITY: A boundary dispute between the municipalities of Laua-an and Bugasong in northern Antique and the concerns of indigenous people added to the problems that further delay the completion of the first hydroelectric power plant in Western Visayas.
The regional project monitoring committee (RPMC) in the region chaired by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Director Ro-ann Bacal has to intervene in the dispute to complete the government’s project in tapping the water source to generate some 8 megawatts of power.
The National Commission on Indigenous People is saying that the Villaciga project site is within an ancestral domain of the Iraynon-Bukidnon, an IP community based in the town of Laua-an.
On the other hand, Sunwest Water and Electric Company (Suweco) is claiming that based on a resolution passed by the local government unit of Bugasong, there are no IPs present in their area. Too, a boundary dispute between Bugasong and Laua-an exists—the latter claims that Villaciga’s project site is within their territory.
The Villaciga I Hydroelectric Plant in Bugasong, Antique project suffered a major debacle of delay when the contractor Suweco was already 85-percent complete. A major stumbling block: the 69kV-Culasi-San Jose Transmission Line Project, the plant’s tapping point to the Southern Panay Backbone Transmission Project (SPBTP) of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) has not been started.
Way past the target June 2013 completion date, it was expected go into commercial operation by October 2013, at the earliest, or December 2013 at the latest, during which the plant can already export its generated electricity to the grid through the SPBTP.
A problem-solving meeting was called by the RPMC last April 19, 2013 at the NEDA regional office to address this interconnection issue, along with other related implementation concerns.
Lydia C. Pendon