ON CHA-CHA. Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez expressed his openness to engage in discussions regarding the controversial issue of Charter Change. He stated that he welcomes any discourse and debate on the matter, believing that such discussions will ultimately benefit the Filipino people. Photo shows Mayor Romualdez, a cousin of Pres. Marcos Jr., speaking during the 33rd founding anniversary of the PNP at Camp Ruperto Kangleon, Palo on February 12, 2024. (ALFRED ROMUALDEZ FACEBOOK)

Been inactive for 3 decades

TACLOBAN CITY– A hydropower plant located in Eastern Samar town that was originally constructed by the government 33 years ago is now back in operation.

On Feb.20, the rehabilitated Amanjuray hydropower plant located in Barangay Bolusao, Lawaan was inaugurated with officials of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) led by its administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda and local officials in attendance.

“It is heartening to see and hear that a cooperative has its own power source. This is yours already, take advantage of it for life),” he said during the inauguration of the facility.

The operation of the 1MW Amanjuray hydropower plant was welcomed by provincial officials led by 4Ps party-list representative Marcelino Libanan.

Libanan said that the operation of the Amanjuray hydropower plant would be a help to the province’s ‘persistent electricity problem.’

“We are optimistic that the restoration of the hydropower plant will offer relief to Eastern Samar residents who have long been grappling with recurrent power outages and high electricity costs,” Libanan, who is also the minority floor leader of the House of Representatives, said in a statement issued on Sunday (Feb.25).

With this development, Libanan has also called on the Department of Energy to promote the development of small-scale, eco-friendly renewable energy projects in rural areas to help address the issue of rural electrification, emphasizing the potential economic benefits for marginalized families engaged in agriculture and fishing.

“Ensuring adequate and stable electricity services to rural barangays will undoubtedly create more economic opportunities for vulnerable households and enhance their standard of living,” Libanan said.

On that same day, a new 20MVA (megavolt ampere) substation located in Borongan City was also inaugurated.

The Amanjuray hydropower plant harnesses energy from the Amanjuray Falls, one of the four waterfalls in the Bolusao River Watershed Forest Reserve, which provides the power needs of the residents of Lawaan and Balangiga, both in Eastern Samar.

With its operation, the Amanjuray hydropower plant will now be synchronized to the grid.
Esamelco general manager, lawyer Jose Michael Edwin Amancio, said that with the operation of the said plant, not only will it provide a stable power supply to Lawaan people but also help reduce the power cooperative’s system loss and boost its power supply.

“With this major rehabilitation, upgrade, and repair, we will now be able to achieve to synchronize the plant to the grid…and will be able to contribute to Esamelco’s revenue, reduction of systems loss, and reduction of power interruption,” he said.

It was learned that the said hydropower plant was commissioned in 1991 after NEA initiated its construction through a grant from the United Kingdom and was later transferred to Esamelco (Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative) Renewable Energy Corp. which undertook its rehabilitation.

The said power plant, constructed from 1988 to 1991, but whose operation was described to be ‘on and off’ due to a number of reasons like not being synchronized to the grid; damage to its equipment; and instability of water supply.

Its rehabilitation started as early as 2021 and was completed in 2023 with most of the funding through a grant coming from the Rural Electrification Financing Corp. in the amount of P30 million with Esamelco providing a P15 million equity.

Based on the NEA data, Esamelco is serving 117,443 member consumers and maintains over 2,101 kms of distribution lines with a peak load of 23 megawatts. At present its consumers pay P13.40 per kilowatt hour.

Last year, Libanan filed House Resolution No. 846, which sought a congressional inquiry into Eastern Samar’s power issues that caused electricity rates to shoot up amid frequent outages.