Tags: renewable energy

Special Report | Push for renewables threatens lands and livelihood in the Cordillera

The Cordillera region, with 5.5 million hectares of drainage area, is considered the “water cradle” of Northern Luzon. Its watersheds feed six major river systems, and have an estimated generation potential of 3,600 megawatts, according to the Department of Energy. With this substantial potential, the Cordillera region is again in the spotlight regarding dam-related conflicts more than five decades since the proposed Chico River Dams ignited popular resistance.

Electricity that does not destroy the environment

Upper Katablangan in Conner, Kalinga enjoys 20 years of nearly uninterrupted power supply from the community’s micro-hydro project this year. This remote community located 20 kilometers from its nearest neighboring barangay could be reached with an eight-hour trek up a perilous foot trail when it is rainy or two hours on expertly-driven motorcycles when the road is dry enough. It is one of the first barangays in Abra, Kalinga and Apayao provinces to build a micro-hydro power plant for electricity, a vital service often taken for granted in lowland communities.

From bodong to electricity

It took the community four years to construct the dam and the canal towards the power station. Aside from their labor, the community cut trees for lumber as their contribution to the project. They built a cement platform for the machinery and a small building for the power station. The community’s remoteness prevented them from bringing motorized machines to help them; everything had to be done by hand.