Tuba IPs give consent to four hydro plants

By Dexter A. See - http://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/03/23/tuba-ips-give-consent-to-four-hydro-plants/
Date of publication: 
23 March, 2015

TUBA, Benguet – Indigenous peoples in this town gave their free and prior informed consent (FPIC) for the establishment of four mini-hydro power plants in two barangays.

The plants will maximize the potential of available water resources to produce additional renewable power for the Luzon grid.

The consent of the Tuba indigenous peoples to the renewable power projects was made official in a memorandum of agreement signed between their representatives and Goldlink Global Energy Corporation, a local hydro power developer based in the municipality.

Three of the mini-hydro power plants with an estimated power output of 9 megawatts will be built in Barangay Tadiangan. The fourth, with a projected power output of 3 megawatts, will be constructed in Barangay Nangalisan.

Mayor Florencio Bentres said the municipal government welcomed the decision of the indigenous peoples to support the put up of the hydro plants, saying that they made sure that the affected indigenous cultural communities will not be short-changed by the project.

“We respect the decision of the affected indigenous peoples. We also support the project because we consider it as environmentally-friendly as it is a run-off-river type of development,” Bentres said.

The mayor added that the four mini-hydro power plants would contribute to the local economy by providing added employment for qualified local residents, increased sources of livelihood for the people and increase in the revenues to be generated.

The plants will be environmentally-friendly because the local power corporation, in partnership with the indigenous cultural communities, will be engaged in activities to significantly improve the state of the forest reservations surrounding the power plants.

The communities hosting the operation of the four power plants will receive a share of one centavo per kilowatt-hour apart from the business and real property taxes to be paid by the local power corporation to the local government and the national wealth tax from the national government.

Tuba currently hosts the power plants of the Hydroelectric Development Corporation and the city-owned Asin minihydro plants. The city-owned power plants have not been operational since October 2013 after the energy department ruled that they were not authorized to operate due to the absence of a certificate of compliance, which must be issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the power industry’s regulating agency.

Under the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), individuals or corporations interested to develop, exploit and utilize the country’s rich natural resources must first secure the free and prior informed consent of indigenous peoples and communities who would be directly affected by their projects.