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PIA Press Release
2010/02/20

Aboitiz says Binga and Magat dams have critical water levels

by SC Aro

La Trinidad, Benguet (20 February) -- Binga and Magat dams reached critical water levels in the absence of rains brought about by the El Niņo phenomenon adversely affecting power generation, according to SN Aboitiz Power which operates both power plants.

SN Aboitiz Power Vice President for Corporate Services Atty. Mike Hosillos said they have to operate as scheduled by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) as both power plants operated by their company reached critical levels.

During shutdown operations, Hosillos said they are reserving water in time for the succeeding schedule of operations. He said Binga, Magat and Ambuklao dams are only part of the Luzon Grid. Ambuklo dam which is expected to operate end of the year is still undergoing rehabilitation, he added.

Hosillos assured the continuous supply of power until the summer season as there is still reserve supply according to NGCP. The NGCP is looking into the power plants at one time to meet the critical demand.

The NGCP is a private corporation which won the bidding for the franchise to operate and maintain the country's transmission network. It has the crucial task of delivering safe and reliable electricity nationwide formerly the responsibility of the National Transmission Corporation or TransCo.

Under normal conditions, the Binga dam producing 100 megawatt power at 565 meters above sea level (MASL) height of dam water but the minimum level should be 560 MASL according to Hosillos. For Magat dam which normally produces 360 megawatts at 170 MASL has reached below critical level varying from 158 MASL to 160 MASL.

Hosillos said the company is prepared and factored in the periods from March to May of low water level due to the absence of rainfall from March, April until May as they have studied the hydrological profile of Benguet.

Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Meteorologist Engr Danny Galaty said El Niņo is expected to end June 28 with a prolonged summer season.

Due to El Niņo phenomenon, the province is experiencing dry spell according to Galaty. If there will be no rains this month we will be experiencing drought, he added.

Among the mitigating measures SNAP is undertaking include the efficient use of irrigation water particularly in the Magat dam plant and assisting the Department of Agriculture in coordination with the Bureau of Soil and Water Management (SWMB) in the conduct of cloud seeding operations.

Hosillos said as part of their environment and social responsibility, they are coordinating with government and non-government organizations in environmental protection and offering alternative livelihood for the community that would directly benefit them.

The company has assumed one million tree challenge which initially took off last year and had substantially distributed 100,000 seedlings across each subsidiary where there plants are located according to Hosillos. He said this is the company's way of taking on climate change challenge.

Galaty on the other hand said mitigating measures to be considered by concerned sectors should be the prioritization of water impounding projects for agriculture and the continuing cloud seeding operations when necessary. However, he suggested that cloud seeding which is an expensive venture should be done early morning around five to six o'clock. (PIA-Benguet) [top]

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