SNAP-Aboitiz set to finish 8.5-MW hydro plant in Philippines.

SN ABOITIZ Power-Magat, Inc. (SNAP-Magat) is on track to finish its 8.5-megawatt (MW) run-of-river hydro-power facility in Ramon, Isabela in November, well within the deadline set by regulators for projects availing of the guaranteed rate under the feed-in-tariff (FiT) system.

SN ABOITIZ Power-Magat, Inc. (SNAP-Magat) run-of-river hydro-power facility in Ramon, Isabela

“Right about now, we’re probably at 90% completion. That’s the technical part and installation. They’ve been managed very very well by the team,” said Joseph S. Yu, president and chief executive officer of SNAP, the joint venture between SN Power of Norway and Aboitiz Power Corp.

“Then we begin our dry commissioning and the wet commissioning,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Second Philippine Hydro Summit and Exhibition at the Makati Diamond Residences on Thursday.

The $47.1-million project, SNAP’s first greenfield venture, will generate power from the water flowing from the Maris reservoir into the south main diversion canal. The facility is in Barangay Ambatali, which is downstream of SNAP’s large Magat hydroelectric power plant.

“There will always be surprises; that’s the only certainty in the project execution,” Mr. Yu said.

He said commissioning should begin in September. The project broke ground in 2015.

Separately, AboitizPower told the stock exchange that the project was 85% finished and would start commercial operations in November. Mr. Yu said the quoted completion date was for June 2017.

“This is our first project to come through our greenfield pipeline so we are very excited. We have been working hard to ensure we finish on time and within budget, as well as within safety, social, and environmental standards. Barangay Ambatali is also now our host barangay, a welcome addition to what we hope would be a growing number of SNAP host communities,” AboitizPower quoted Mr. Yu as saying.

Mr. Yu also gave an update on the 390-MW Alimit hydro project in Ifugao, which he described as “making very good progress.” The multi-facility complex is made up of the 20-MW Olilicon hydro, 120-MW Alimit hydro and the 250-MW Alimit pumped storage.

“We’ve conducted informational and education campaigns, built up a fair bit of trust in the communities. I think early on we struggled with communicating what the project is and the value of the project to the community,” he told reporters.

The Alimit complex also requires a 42-kilometer 230-kilovolt transmission line to transmit power from the plant to the grid.

“There’s a little bit of firming up that we will need to do, but that shouldn’t take a lot of time. The biggest thing for us for Alimit is to make sure that it has the right sociopolitical acceptance in the community,” he said.

He said the “three big hurdles” for the project are the free prior informed consent from the National Commission on Indigenous People, the environmental compliance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the endorsement of the local government units.

The project encompasses four ancestral domains in the municipalities of Aguinaldo, Lagawe, Lamut and Mayoyao.

SNAP owns and operates the 360-MW Magat hydro-power plant on the border of Isabela and Ifugao. It also has the 105-MW Ambuklao and the 140-MW Binga hydro plants in the province of Benguet.

Under the FiT system, qualified developers of emerging renewable energy sources are paid a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of their exported electricity, but excluding the energy for their own use.

For run-of-river hydropower, the Department of Energy set a target of 250 MW with a FiT rate of P5.90 per kWh.

As of May 2017, only four projects have been built with a total capacity of 28.70 MW. The rate has been degressed this year to P5.8705 per kWh as called for by the FiT rules. The incentive scheme ends this year.

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