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Power to Benguet

26 Nov, 2009

On Luzon in the Philippines, Norwegian competence has joined forces with Filipino local knowledge, resulting in a cleaner environment, local development and a lot of power.

In Benguet, bad weather has again become good news, as water is once again turning into electricity. The two power plants were built in 1956 and 1960, and when the Philippines abolished its power monopoly in 2001 they were both more or less obsolete. The tender process in 2007 saw SN Power end up with both power plants, a fact SN Power executive vice president for Southeast Asia, Erik Knive, is very pleased about.

- Norwegian hydropower knowledge represents an enormous asset. It is only natural that Norway’s cutting-edge expertise in power plant construction, maintenance and sales is also utilised abroad.

Gone with the big earthquake

He has travelled to Benguet to monitor the work to get the plants back up and running. The Ambuklao power plant has mostly been shut down ever since the great earthquake in 1995, but not for much longer. A new intake and access tunnels  to the turbines are being constructed, and the turbines, generators and control systems will be replaced. When everything is in place, the power plant will deliver 50% more than it did.

Knive is quick to point out that this good development could not have taken place without the competence of local partner Aboitiz. - Local and national networks are decisive when engaging in large projects such as this, he says.

Sorely needed energy

- Delivering a lot of clean energy is a good investment in every way, explains Torbjørn Elliot Kirkeby-Garstad, SN Power’s project manager in South-East Asia. It serves the environment, the Philippines, the local community and the power plant employees.

The most obvious benefit for people in Benguet is the increased municipal and provincial tax income. In addition, the power plants are subject to a special tax from Filipino authorities, the proceeds of which are earmarked for the local communities. SN Aboitiz Power’s voluntary CSR Fund for Ambuklao and Binga also contribute 9 million Filipino pesos annually, almost NOK 1 billion.

There was also a requirement that at least 70 per cent of those working on the upgrade were to be hired locally. 50 000 coffee plants has been distributed through a community project in Magat, to prevent erosion. SN Power also has several local projects going, for example in the fields of health and education.

Text: Alf Berg og Helena Zissis

Facts: SN Power was founded in 2002 as a joint venture between Statkraft(60%) and Norfund(40%) and invests in hydropower projects in selected growth markets beyond Europe.