Aboitiz firm gives irrigation water, power to Ifugao, Isabela

RAMON, Isabela — The 8.5-megawatt (MW) hydroelectric power plant of SN AboitizPower-Magat, Inc. (SNAP-Magat) here is now in full operation.

The facility will not only give electricity to the province, but also address the irrigation needs of some 85,000 hectares of rice farms in Isabela and nearby Ifugao province.

“Today, we are celebrating a new era of positive channeling power in SNAP’s history,” said Joseph Yu, president of SNAP-Magat, during the switch-on rites here for the facility, called Maris (Magat River Irrigation System) main canal plant, on Thursday.

Representatives from the government of Norway also attended the event.

The power plant was constructed by the joint venture of AboitizPower Inc. and Norway’s SN Power AS mainly to address the irrigation needs of the farmers of Ifugao and Isabela, which is host to the plant.

From the 380-MW Magat hydro plant, water will be poured downstream to the Maris power plant, preventing flooding in case the Magat dam overflows. The new facility will also serve as irrigation water reservoir on dry season.

“Maris is a downstream power plant from Magat, which will re-use water coming from Magat power plant for irrigation purposes,” Yu explained.

He said it took two years to build the USD47-million run-of-river hydro plant in Barangay Ambatali, this town.

Assistant Vice President Willie Ferrer added that any water from Magat power plant would be used to generate power and its excess would be for irrigating farms.

Ferrer also said the services of the National Irrigation Administration-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-MARIIS) will benefit farmlands in part of Isabela and Ifugao, specifically the town of Alfonso Lista.

Ferrer explained that there are two main canals under the NIA-MARIIS–the North Diversion Canal (NDC) and the Maris Main Canal (MMC), which covers the whole of Isabela and a small portion of Alfonso Lista.

Engineer Romualdo Canadido, former NIA-MARIIS operations manager, said the project came about as a proposal from engineers, who were encouraged by the company to come up with innovative projects to further enhance the operation of the Magat power plant and further benefit the local communities.

The proposal was presented to the company in 2013 and was approved and kicked off in 2016.

Canadido noted the new project will also be beneficial to the Luzon grid, as the additional 8.5 megawatts of power is brought directly to the grid. This is aside from the employment, flood control, and irrigation systems, he said.

“Through innovative programs, we came up with different entries and technologies in order to improve our operations. We encouraged our subordinates and because of that, we have improved the Maris dam and increased the maximum level,” Ferrer concluded.

SNAP-Magat also has a subsidiary for the Binga and Ambuklao power plants in Benguet province. Pamela Mariz Geminiano/PNA-northboundasi.com