The Department of Energy has approved and is expected to release river service contracts soon to allow the start of a pre-feasibility study for the construction of hydro electric power plants early next year in the San Carlos and Don Salvador Benedicto areas in Negros Occidental, Jose Ma. Valencia, chief of staff of Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said yesterday.
Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said bureaucratic red tape, especially by the DOE in the previous administration, had delayed the development of hydro electric power in Negros Occidental.
The process for setting up of power plants should be hastened before it is too late, he said.
“Must we wait until we have a problem like Mindanao that is experiencing 15-hour brownouts?” he asked.
The building of hydroelectric power plants in Negros Occidental has been stalled by service contracts granted for almost all the rivers in Negros Occidental by the DOE during the previous administration to a firm called Century Peak, that has not even touched base with local officials in the province, Marañon pointed out.
The service contracts granted Century Peak had delayed serious investors in hydro electric power plants from conducting detailed engineering studies on Negros rivers, he noted.
Valencia yesterday said he learned from hydro electric plant investors, Conal Holdings and Alto Power Management Corp., that the DOE had acted positively on their applications for service contracts to develop the hydro power of the Bago River in the San Carlos City and Don Salvador Benedicto town areas.
They hope to set up plants that will produce 40 megawatts of power, he said.
That was after it was discovered that the service contract granted Century Peak for the Bago River was only for the Murcia area, but did not cover the stretch of the river from San Carlos to Don Salvador Benedicto, he said.
As soon as the DOE releases the service contracts, the investors will conduct their pre-feasibility study and hopefully construction of the plants can start early next year, Alto vice president Anton Alcantara informed him, Valencia said.
Pre-feasibility study is expected to cost more than P50 million, he said.
Construction will take five years and will bring jobs and billions of pesos in investments into Negros Occidental, he added.
There are Japanese investors who are among those interested in joining other investors in the Negros hydro plants, he said.*CPG