TUBA, Benguet – Indigenous peoples in this town gave their required free and prior informed consent (FPIC) for the put up of four minihydro power plants having a total output of at least 12 megawatts in three barangays to maximize the potentials 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 concretized in a memorandum of agreement signed between representatives of the inhabitants and Goldlink Global Energy Corporation, a local hydro power developer based in the municipality.
Three of the minihydro power plants having an estimated power output of more or less 9 megawatts will be built within barangay Tadiangan while one of the plants 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 local chief executive the put up of the four minihydro power plants would also contribute in improving 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 by the local government.
Bentres explained the minihydro projects are environmentally-friendly because the local power corporation, in partnership with the indigenous cultural communities, will be engaged in activities that will significantly improve the state of the forest reservations surrounding the power plants to guarantee adequate water supply for the power plants.
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 indigenous peoples communities who will be directly affected by their projects.
It was learned indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities hosting the operation of the four power plants will be receiving 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.
Goldlink technical personnel will still conduct further feasibility studies to ascertain the actual power output of the minihydro power plants and to determine the private properties that will be affected and to be compensated once the project will be in full operation in the future.
Tuba currently hosts the power plants of the Hydroelectric Development Corporation (H|EDCOR) 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 it is 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. By Dexter A. See