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Lake Mainit hydroelectric power plant: From a beautiful trauma

JABONGA, Agusan del Norte –  Lake Mainit is the fourth largest lake in the country. Sometime in 2011, its waters submerged most areas between the municipalities of Santiago, Jabonga and Kitcharao in Agusan del Norte.

The lake waters that reached the second floor of a lakeside hotel, also damaged and flashed away the different structures and houses caught by its outstretched. The national highway was also flooded and totally impassable.

To the residents, it wasn’t the first time they experienced flooding of the lake, but it was the most unfavorable.

Albeit traumatic, the stretch and might of the water that came out from Lake Mainit was a revelation of its full potential.

The lake

The total area of the lake spans to about 17,060 hectares while its shoreline has a total length of 62.10 kilometers. Its maximum depth reaches 223 meters, making it the deepest lake in the country.

By its contours and lay of land and water, Lake Mainit is divided almost equally between the provinces of Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte. Accordingly, its outlet is the Tubay River located in the adjacent town of the province that flows southward before entering the Butuan Bay as part and parcel of the Mindanao Sea. It is skirted on the east by the Philippine–Japan Friendship Highway which connects Surigao and Davao.

The impressive Lake Mainit in Agusan del Norte. (Photo: LMDA-Kaiser Recabo Jr.)

Fishing is the primary livelihood of the lake dwellers who consume and trade the two rare  fish species found in the lake called "pedianga" (Glossogobius giurus) and "buguan" (Ophieleotris aporos). Also, the lake has secondary forests where rice, corn, and bananas grow as another subsistence in the area.

Unleashing the power

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. personally attended the inauguration of the Lake Mainit Hydroelectric Power Plant (LMHPP) and without doubt set his first-ever presidential visit in Caraga Region, who lauded the Philippines’ Markham Resources Corporation and Japanese firm J-POWER for its partnership that led to the development and operation of this power plant. 

The Chief Executive attended the inauguration of the LMHPP in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte. From the left to right: Representative Dale Corvera, Governor Ma. Angelica Rosedell M. Amante, Special to the President Antonio Lagdameo Jr., President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. and from J-POWER. (Photo: PCO)

“The development of this hydro power site is a defining step towards our goal of securing much needed power for the people of Agusan del Norte and its neighboring areas by taking advantage of its water resources. The Lake Mainit hydroelectric run-of -river power project offers several benefits and is expected to provide approximately 100,871 megawatts of clean and affordable energy to around 45,000 households in local communities each year,” said the President.

The hydroelectric power plant fulfills the President’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) target of mitigating the impact of climate change and combating other environmental threats through advancing renewable energy for the benefit of the Filipino people.

An aerial view of the Lake Mainit Hydroelectric Power Plant. (Photo: LMHPP)

Going above and beyond

Agusan del Norte Governor, Ma. Angelica Rosedell M. Amante  revealed that  Jabonga town will transform into an industrial fulcrum, from being an agricultural and aquatic hub in the region.

“Certainly, this multi-faceted project does not merely entail the provision of electricity to our people, as this also paves the way for irrigation support, flood control, accessibility to potable water supply, job opportunities, and ultimately a sustainable and carbon-free community.  With the establishment of the hydroelectric power plant, more or less 60 hectares of rice fields will be saved for our farmers to cultivate, and will also reclaim an additional 30 hectares of land area subsided in water near Lake Mainit,” the governor highlighted.

Ruth Labarete, administrative officer of the LMHPP, and a resident of Jabonga said that the company is prioritizing the hiring of qualified residents from the locality of Jabonga, including those residing in the province of Agusan del Norte and in the region. Indigenous Peoples in the area will also be prioritized in the hiring process.

A portion of the 24.9-megawatt Lake Mainit Hydroelectric Power Plant. (Photo: PIA Caraga)

“Since the start of the operations of the power plant, our pilot 21 employees are residents of the province of Agusan del Norte, and only the project manager with specialized skill is not a resident of the place. We only outsource manpower for specialized skill, “the officer underlined.

“The facility expansion involves 234 employees and they are all Agusanons,” Laberete added.

With the establishment of the LMHPP,  where Lake Mainit served as the main source of water, Grethel Genel, a resident of Purok 2, Poblacion in Jabonga town said that their place usually is affected with flooding during rainy season especially from December to February. “Since the start of the operation of the power plant, we noticed a reduction of wet areas near our residence. I am hopeful that this coming rainy season, the water will no longer reach our house,” Genel uttered with positivity.

Sustaining the gains

Congressional Representative Dale B. Corvera of the 2nd District of Agusan del Norte believed that the power plant will also provide reliable and accessible electricity to the consumers of Agusan del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ANECO) which will support the ever-growing demand for energy from both residential and commercial consumers in the Caraga Region.

ANECO is responsible for the distribution of power to the households, business establishments and industries to the two cities to wit, Butuan and Cabadbaran and the ten municipalities that comprise the rest of Agusan del Norte namely, Las Nieves, RTR, Santiago, Tubay, Magallanes, Jabonga, Kitcharao, Nasipit, Buenavista and Carmen.

The high caliber leaders of the province did not waste any time as they recently  sought concurrence with the Board of Directors of ANECO in Butuan City to request them to lower down the cost of electricity in areas within ANECO’s jurisdiction as a result of the establishment of the 24.9 Megawatt Lake Mainit Hydroelectric  Power Plant operated by the Agusan Power Corporation (APC) in which the power generated by APC will be purchased by ANECO at a lower cost for their consumers.

Bringing its prime purpose on the negotiation table,  this will definitely benefit almost 137,000 member-consumers in the entire province of Agusan del Norte. (RLE/NCLM/PIA-Caraga)

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Nora Lanuza



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