MANILA—The Philippines and Japan yesterday signed grant agreements to set up mini-hydropower development projects in the provinces of Ifugao and Isabela, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“Harnessing hydropower potentials in the countryside will help the government in its strategy of intensifying the development and use of renewable and environment-friendly alternative energy resources,” said NEDA Deputy Director-General Rolando G. Tungpalan. 

Through the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) grant, the project in Ifugao will construct an 810 kilowatt-capacity mini-hydropower plant in Barangay Haliap, Asipulo, Ifugao. Also provided in this project are hydropower equipment, the repair of existing irrigation facilities, and training for operators and plant supervisors. 

“This project will then provide a reliable source of fund for the preservation and rehabilitation of Ifugao’s rice terraces. Also, the province is now developing its native rice varieties raised in its terraces for both the domestic and export markets,” the NEDA official said. 

The grant amount for the Ifugao project is JPY893 million or PhP377.5 million. The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Provincial Government of Ifugao will implement this project from May 2013 to January/February 2015. 

Likewise, a mini-hydropower plant in Isabela with a 45-kilowatt capacity, including a substation, transmission facilities, a diversion canal, and power house will all be constructed. 

“Isabela is also a significant source of agricultural products, especially palay and corn, for the country,” said Tungpalan. 

The JICA grant amount for the Isabela project is JPY147 million or PhP62.14 million. The DOE and the National Irrigation Administration will implement the project from May 2013 to November 2014. 

“The need for sustainable sources of electric power in these two provinces in Northern Luzon is important considering these are among the resource-rich but income-poor areas in country,” he said. 

All the expressed objectives, Tungpalan added, are aligned with the strategies in the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, which is currently being updated for the mid-term.