To avert the worsening power crisis in Southern Philippines, a $750-million worth hydroelectric power plant is set to rise in the three towns of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur provinces, officials said Thursday.

The officials said the construction of the big hydroelectric power is financed by the Exim Bank of China.

The Agus lll hydroelectric power plant will be constructed along the Agus River complex within Saguiaran in Lanao del Sur and the municipalities of Pantar and Balo-i in Lanao del Norte.

If completed, the 80-hectare Agus lll hydroelectric power plant will produce 240 megawatts of electricity, thus greatly bolstering the Mindanao grid, the officials said.

The groundbreaking ceremony was conducted Wednesday morning attended by provincial officials and other power stakeholders.

The provincial officials said the construction of the new hydroelectric power plant would help bring relief to the current power problem in Mindanao and would also give more benefits and employment opportunities.

Officials in the two provinces warmly welcomed this new development in the midst of the power crisis gripping Mindanao.

However, some residents in Pantar staged a protest a day before the groundbreaking ceremony because of alleged environmental issues that may affect the watershed of Lake Lanao.

Retired Gen. Francisco Gudane, Agus III vice president for administration and security, urged the residents along the three municipalities to cooperate for the successful implementation of the project, saying this would give more benefits and employment opportunities for them while helping address the Mindanao power problem.

The Agus lll plants will depend on the fresh water supply from Lake Lanao, the second largest lake in the Philippines.

The five existing Agus plants are currently facing a problem because of the low water level in the lake due to the El Nino weather phenomenon, forcing the state-owned National Power Corporation (Napocor) and National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to impose power curtailment to all 33 electric cooperatives spread all over the southern island since January this year.

The Agus lll plant will not also help ensure a brownout-free May 10, 2010 national and local elections because the project would be completed in four years, officials said.

Article by Mike Crismundo

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