CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Environmental group Power of People Coalition (P4P) said it hopes the proposed rehabilitation of Northern Mindanao's Agus-Pulangi hydropower plant complex (APHPC) would lead to a switch to clean and renewable sources of energy.

This came after the Department of Finance (DOF) said it is now fine-tuning a proposed arrangement with the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) and National Power Corp. (NPC) on the PHP16.7 billion rehabilitation project for the decades-old APHPC facilities.

Under the proposed memorandum of agreement (MOA), DOF will be the main implementing agency, loan borrower and budget holder for the rehabilitation projects.

PSALM and NPC, on the other hand, will both serve as the implementing units.

Gerry Arances, P4P convenor, said in a statement Wednesday the APHPC rehabilitation “should become the first step towards adopting a more sustainable approach to the country’s energy production.”

Sustainability advocates, consumers, communities, and local stakeholders in Mindanao have long been urging the government to prioritize the rehabilitation of the Agus-Pulangi power complex, Arances pointed out.

“After allowing installed capacity of coal in Mindanao to rise by nearly ten times in the last decade – from 232 MW to 2,089 MW – this is certainly a welcome direction,” he said.

The rehabilitation, he said, was a sign for the government that “that lessons were learned on how unwise it was to flood Mindanao with coal, which only burdened communities and consumers with pollution and higher electricity rates.”

Arances said the government must not stop at rehabilitating Agus-Pulangi, adding there has to be a comprehensive plan to make access to the vast potential for renewables in Mindanao “within reach of every household.”

However, Arances said his group is concerned over the decision to pursue the rehabilitation project once again through a loan, set to be managed by the DOF.

Loans, he said, could impact the affordability of electricity from Agus-Pulangi, and the public may have to bear the additional costs from borrowed funds.

In his report to the DOF, NPC acting Senior Vice President Melchor Ridulme said rehabilitation is divided into two subprojects, with the first series involving the rehabilitation of the Agus IV, V, VI, and VII plants in the APHPC that is expected to generate a total rated capacity of 417.1 megawatts (MW).

The second series, Ridulme said, focuses on the rehabilitation of  Agus I, II, and the Pulangi IV plants, which will generate a total rated capacity of 515 MW.

Out of the 1,001 MW of installed capacity of the APHC, only 600-700 MW is currently available, partly because of the limitations of its aging equipment.

Ridulme said the rehabilitation of the APHC plants is among the major projects of President Rodrigo Duterte that will be turned over to the next administration.

The APHC consists of seven mostly run-of-river hydropower plants with a total installed capacity of 1,001 MW.

Six of the seven hydropower plants are located along the Agus River which flows for 36.5 kilometers (km) from Lanao Lake to Iligan Bay.

The seventh hydropower plant is the Pulangi 4, located on the Pulangi River in Bukidnon. (PNA)