BAGUIO CITY – Energy officials vowed to revise the definition of host communities in the agency’s existing regulations so that villages who deserve to benefit from the operation of power plants will have to get their share from whatever available assistance that will be extended to the places.
Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said the agency will validate the concerns raised by indigenous peoples (IPs) and concerned local officials from the different parts of the Cordillera regarding their alleged failure to access assistance from the funds being segregated for host communities of power plants to ensure that the said areas will also be granted similar assistance in the future.
Energy Regulations No. 1, series of 1994 mandates operators of power plants to allocate once centavo per kilowatt-hour to fund energy-related projects of host communities.
Mylene C. Capongocol, officer-in-charge of the DOE’s renewable energy management bureau, admitted that under existing regulations, host communities are confined to the places where the facilities of the power plants are situated.
However, she claimed that experts are now reviewing the current definition of host communities because of numerous issues raised by IPs and concerned local officials in outlying villages claiming that their places should also be included as part of the host communities because the areas serve as the headwaters of hydro power plants operating in the different parts of the country.
Earlier, Bauko Mayor Abraham B. Akilit questioned the energy department on why is his municipality being deprived of accessing the funds for energy-related projects when Bauko, which hosts the Mount Data watershed serving as headwaters of the Agno, Chico, Magat and Abra rivers, is the source of the abundant water supply used by the Magat, Ambuclao, Binga and San Roque dams to generate power for the Luzon grid.
Capongcol assured IPs and concerned local officials that the agency is considering the issuance of the necessary regulations that will address the issues that have been raised regarding the real definition of host communities so that those villages who deserve to be provided with the assistance from the available funds will be granted to help improve the generation of renewable energy in the countryside.
Mayor Akilit maintain the forest cover of the Mount Data watershed is considered to be part of energy-related projects because the watersheds serve as the source of the water flowing to the river systems that are used by power plants to generate renewable energy that is being sold to the grid, thus, funding assistance should also be allocated by the energy department for the implementation of sustainable environmental preservation and protection projects.
Undersecretary Fuentebella asserted the energy department wants to closely work with local governments and the private sector to sustain the development of more power plants in the countryside to maximize the utilization of the State’s available natural resources so that communities hosting the operation of the said power facilities will be able to benefit from the available assistance to be extended by the government to the said places to spur socio-economic growth in various parts of the country considering the abundance of the resources that could be tapped for the production of renewable energy. By HENT