Despite the tight supply situation in the Luzon grid, plant owner and operator Hedcor Inc. opted to shut down its 70-megawatt Bakun hydropower facility as the host-community ignored an earlier letter from the Department of Energy (DOE) instructing the power firm to continue the operation of its plant.

Hedcor, a subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Corporation, stipulated that representatives from the municipality of Bakun, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP-CAR) and the Bakun Indigenous Tribes Organization (BITO), physically visited the generating facilities of the Bakun asset on June 30, “to implement a forced shutdown,” based on an imprimatur of the NCIP Regional Office relative to a cease and desist order (CDO) that it issued on June 22.

The power firm said “the instruction was made without any reference to the directive from the DOE dated June 25 to Hedcor to continue operating.”

Leo Lungay, vice president for Operations and Maintenance of Hedcor, noted “we are forced to stop operations, with the threat posed by the situation.”

The company executive added that “as much as we want to continue delivering power to the Luzon grid, we don’t want to compromise the safety of the community and our personnel.”

The media has been apprised that it was Atty Jerry A. Marave, who accompanied the group from the local government unit (LGU) and indigenous peoples (IPs) to implement the shutdown order; and on that score, he also opined that “a Court order and not a letter from the DOE can supersede the CDO.”

It was also sounded off by the host community and NCIP regional office that “the letter from the DOE was not an instruction,” instead, it was seen as just a “simple reminder” to the facility owner that it shall continue operating its plant.

The Aboitiz firm emphasized though that even the standing status quo ante order issued by the regional trial court of Buguias, “which is a result of a mutual commitment between Hedcor and the LGU, to maintain the uninterrupted operations of the plants, was also not recognized by the group.”

Amid the deadlock, Hedcor Vice President for Corporate Services Noreen Vicencio indicated that they have been continuously reaching out to their host community “for a reasonable dialogue”; or what the IP groups would refer to as ‘tongtongan’ to resolve issues.

“Prior to the issuance of this CDO, we were hopeful with the confirmed ‘tongtongan’ that we were supposed to have with the IP leaders last June 15. However, with the last-minute cancellation advised by the LGU, and followed by BITO, we are saddened that the situation has come to this,” Vicencio stressed.

The Hedcor executive stated “we hear the community’s desire for a dialogue and the demand for a shutdown before any discussions will commence.”

Nevertheless, Vicencio argued that the company is equally responsible in adhering to the mandate of the DOE for their plant “to continue operations in light of the ongoing power crisis in Luzon.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (