• Consortium seeks to lengthen Magat lifespan

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    SANTIAGO CITY: In a bid to prolong the remaining 25-year lifespan of Magat Dam, a massive rehabilitation as well as upgrading is being conducted by a Filipino-Norwegian consortium which operates the dam’s power facility.

    Of its 50-year projected life-span, Magat Dam, one of the oldest power and irrigation providers in Luzon has only around 25 years or less remaining.

    SN Aboitiz Power Magat, Inc. (SNAP Magat) officials said that the company is now conducting massive rehabilitation and upgrade of the dam’s facility “to maintain its efficiency after nearly 30 years of operation, or more than halfway from its projected lifespan.”

    In 2007, SNAP acquired ownership of the dam’s power facility from the national government under its power sector privatization program for $350 million.

    However, the dam’s irrigation component remains with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

    SNAP also acquired ownership of the country’s oldest Ambuklao Dam, and the Binga Dam, both located in Benguet, from the national government.

    “The refurbishment of the [Magat Dam] power facility aims to restore the original generating efficiency of the generating unit,” said plant manager Wilhelmino Ferrer, in a media gathering.

    Once Asia’s biggest, the Magat Dam is a large rock-fill dam located on the Magat River at the boundary between the municipalities of Alfonso Lista in Ifugao and Ramon in Isabela province.

    The Magat River is the largest tributary of the Cagayan River, the longest river in the country.

    Magat Dam’s construction started 1975 and was complete by 1982 with two primary purposes: as a source of irrigation water and as a provider of hydroelectric power.

    The dam contributes 380 megawatts of power, making it the second hydro power contributor in the Luzon grid and irrigates at least 80,000 of farmlands in Isabela and parts of Cagayan and Quirino making Region 1 the country’s leading corn and rice-producer.

    ”Since last year, we are currently undertaking a massive rehabilitation and upgrading to maintain the dam’s efficiency to generate power, and somehow to prolong its operation after its projected life span of 50 years,” Ferrer said.

    To date, Ferrer said, two of the dam’s four water turbines and generators and two of the four pipelines from the reservoir to the turbines had been refurbished besides the upgrading and replacement of its old transformers to prevent power breakdown.

    Ferrer said the dam’s manual control system of starting and shutting down of power generating are now automated.

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