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Eastern Samar's sustainable energy initiative gets a renewed boost

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) has inaugurated the newly rehabilitated Amanjuray mini-hydro power plant in Barangay Bolusao, Lawaan, in Eastern Samar. 

The one-megawatt power plant is a project originally commissioned by the state-owned corporation 33 years ago for the Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative Inc. (Esamelco). The project included a new 20/25 megavolt ampere power substation in Borongan City.

Nestled in the heart of the Bolusao River Watershed Forest Reserve lies the Amanjuray mini-hydro power plant, an example of how energy can be harnessed from the cascading Amanjuray Falls.

The newly constructed 20/25 MVA Borongan substation of Esamelco caters to the increasing power demand of residents in the area and the neighboring municipalities of Balangkayan, Maydolong, San Julian, Llorente, and Sulat.

This milestone marks a significant stride in addressing Eastern Samar's enduring struggle to ensure consistent electricity access in the communities and meet the escalating power demands of the communities.

The Amanjuray mini-hydro power plant utilizes the energy generated by the Amanjuray Falls, one of the four waterfalls in the Bolusao River Watershed Forest Reserve, to provide power to the residents of Lawaan and Balangiga in Eastern Samar. (Screengrab photo from the promotional video courtesy of Esamelco)
Revitalization ceremony

The NEA officials, headed by Administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda, along with 4Ps Party-list Representative and House Minority Leader Marcelino C. Libanan, Vice Governor Maricar Siso-Goteesan, Lawaan Mayor Athene Mendros, and other local dignitaries, collaborated in the ceremony to revitalize the mini-hydro power plant.

During the ceremony, Almeda expressed his admiration for the cooperative's ownership of their energy source and emphasized its importance for future generations. His words resonated with hope and empowerment, inspiring the attendees.

Government officials inaugurated the newly restored Amanjuray mini-hydro power plant in Barangay Bolusao, Lawaan, Eastern Samar, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Esamelco)

The rehabilitation of the said project began in 2021 and was finished in 2023. Most funding came from a P30 million grant from the Rural Electrification Financing Corporation, while Esamelco contributed P15 million in equity.

Ending the electricity woes

In a statement, Libanan envisioned relief for residents whom recurrent power outages and soaring costs have long burdened. He emphasized the transformative potential of the power plant, not just in providing electricity but also in catalyzing economic growth, particularly for marginalized rural communities.

He also urged the Department of Energy to champion small-scale, eco-friendly renewable energy projects, envisioning a future where sustainable power generation empowers vulnerable households engaged in agriculture and fishing. The promise of economic prosperity and enhanced living standards echoed through the chambers of power.

Blessing of the mini-hydro power plant facility. (Photo courtesy of Vice Governor Maricar Siso-Goteesan)
The aerial view of the Amanjuray mini-hydro power plant facility. (Screengrab photo from the promotional video courtesy of Esamelco)
Electric Cooperative’s initiative

Esamelco is a cooperative that operates in the energy sector of Eastern Samar under the leadership of General Manager Jose Michael Edwin Amancio and Board President Reynaldo Gerna.

The cooperative has gained recognition for its innovative and resilient approaches toward serving an estimated customer base of around 117,443 across 597 barangays in Eastern Samar.

The updated reports from NEA indicate that the cooperative is responsible for operating and maintaining more than 2,101 kilometers of distribution lines. The cooperative has a peak load demand of 23 megawatts.

The plant, constructed in 1991 with support from the United Kingdom, has undergone significant transformation under Esamelco’s leadership, resulting in remarkable growth and impact.

In a statement, Amancio mentioned that with this significant rehabilitation, upgrade, and repair, they can now synchronize the plant to the grid. This will enable them to contribute to Esamelco’s revenue and reduce system losses and power interruptions.

Reaping its benefits

According to Ayessa Grace D. Abing, the Corporate Planning Division Chief of Esamelco, the Amanjuray mini-hydro power plant in Lawaan offers several benefits. It provides a reliable power source during emergencies and natural disasters, creates job opportunities, and promotes business growth in the municipalities.

Abing added that generating electricity through water power significantly contributes to renewable energy efforts and can help reduce carbon emissions while mitigating climate change. This project showcases the potential impact of such renewable energy initiatives on communities, the environment, and future sustainability.

She also mentioned that the upgraded 20/25 MVA substation in Borongan City addresses the current and future electricity demands. It ensures adequate capacity and reliability, minimizing interruptions from installing a new transformer.

In a world that is grappling with climate change and energy insecurity, the progress made by Eastern Samar towards renewable resilience is truly inspiring. Through the coordinated efforts of government agencies, cooperatives, and visionary leaders, the province is taking significant steps toward a more sustainable future. (LDL/AAC/PIA Leyte)

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Aaron Cotejar

Information Officer

Region 8

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