KAPANGAN, Benguet – The Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (COHECO) was able to plant more than 60,000 assorted tree species in the watersheds in Kapangan and Kibungan as part of its commitment to preserve and protect the environment in the area where it will construct its 60-megawatt run-of-river hydro power plant.
COHECO legal and government regulations officer lawyer Jingboy Atonen said that the planted assorted tree species is part of the 120,000 trees that the company should plant within the watershed areas of both towns within the next 5 years pursuant to the conditions that were imposed by the environment department under the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) that was issued for its hydro project.
Among the assorted tree species that had been planted in the watershed areas of Kapangan and Kibungan include Benguet pine, coffee and other fruit-bearing trees that thrive in the said places.
The COHECO official disclosed that one of the major programs of the company is the establishment of coffee plantations in the different parts of the two municipalities to serve as part of the company’s compliance to the reforestation requirements and provide additional sources of livelihood for the people in the remote communities for them to be able to have alternative sources of income that will contribute in efforts to uplift their living condition.
Under the ECC that was issued by the environment department for COHECO’s run-of-river hydro project, the company was required to plant some 120,000 assorted tree species in the watershed areas of the two municipalities that stand to benefit from the operation of the renewable energy plant.
According to him, the company has two years to plant the remaining balance of at least 60,000 trees although the same is easy to achieve considering the involvement of the people in the different communities in the planting of the assorted tree species in the watershed areas.
Part of the company’s obligation once the hydro power plant is operational is the maintenance and enhancement of the watershed areas within the peripheries of the hydro power plant and its other upland water sources.
COHECO is mandated to complete the construction of the 60-megawatt hydro power plant and commission the same by 2023 considering the enormous work involved in the building of access roads leading to the sites of the weir and the power house aside from the installation of transmission towers up to the tapping point of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Bacnotan, La Union.
Initially, the company was able to gain headway in the construction of the access roads in Balacbac and Cuba in Kapangan and Santol, La Union so that it will be able to bring in the required units of equipment to build the weir and the power house in the strategic areas that were identified for the completion of the project.
COHECO is a fully owned Filipino company after it was acquired by a Filipino businessman from a Korean businessman who decided to allegedly sell the company when it was able to secure the free and prior informed consent of the indigenous peoples in the two municipalities for the realization of the project.