Thursday, October 11, 2007


by Marciano A. Paroy, Jr.

Far from the lowlander notion that much of the upper-stream municipalities of Kalinga still grapple and grope in the dark, the Balbalan barangays of Talalang and Sesec-an beg to differ. They have actually been using electric power generated from hydro-energy for quite some time now, since the community had been inspired to replicate the micro-hydro power plant of Dulao in the neighboring province of Abra.

However, as most systems that do not benefit from the proficient maneuver given by technical experts, both the Talalang and Sesec-an power plants soon gave in to the strain of inexperience. Result: the power plants could only give out 50% of the target output. Obviously, if the power plants really had to sustain the power needs of the two communities, some serious rehabilitation work had to be made.

“This is where the Affiliated Non-conventional Energy (ANEC) of KASC came in,” Engr. Manuel Bilagot, ANEC Project Leader, said. “Having won the contract from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which provides the finances for micro-hydro power projects in the country through the Department of Energy (DOE), KASC-ANEC has the upper hand in conducting site surveys and in formulating plans so that the projects would meet their targets.”

The sites identified by ANEC, Talalang and Sesec-an, passed the assessment conducted by ADB consultants on identifying micro-hydro power operations that need serious rehabilitation. Assured with a funding, the local government unit of Balbalan, as the ultimate recipient of the projects, had to pitch-in its counterpart amount, which is further complemented by the free labor given by the community people.

The entry into the two communities by KASC-ANEC is technically matched by the Research and Development Center for Renewable Energy Systems and Technologies (REDCREST), the only DOE-accredited technical working group that is capable of putting Kalinga micro-hydro projects into operation.

REDCREST, headed by Engr. Obed Jose Bilowan, completes the pentagonal alliance that includes ADB, DOE, KASC-ANEC, LGU-Balbalan, through Mayor Allen Jesse Mangaoang – with each group providing its expected contribution that was instrumental for the completion of the project.

“The effective collaboration among the agencies concerned is a continuing venture,” Engr. Ronnie Awing, REDCREST Vice-President, explained. “But also very crucial is the willingness of the barangay officials and other rural folks to give their share in terms of labor, and their openness to be trained so that they may be outfitted with a power source that could meet their energy needs one-hundred percent.”

Engr. Victor Malasi and Engr. Brandy Bitalan, both experts from KASC-ANEC, confirm the sustainability of the rehabilitated power source for the two barangays.

“With the continuing partnership between KASC-ANEC and REDCREST, there is no doubt that the rehabilitated micro-hydro projects would contribute a lot in the development of Talalang and Sesec-an,” Engr. Malasi ended.

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