Pipes … Barangay officials show off the pipes that feed water to run the turbine.
By JUAN ESCANDOR Jr
BAAO, CamSur: At the edge of almost a kilometer-stretch of irrigation canal, the water drops 3.5 meters that the local government unit here harnessed into electricity to light the streets and administrative building saving power bills in tens of thousands pesos from the barangay coffers.
To Barangay San Vicente of this town, with an average of P2 million internal revenue allotment (IRA) share in one year, the savings from the power bills for streetlights and administrative building of P8,000 per month enable the LGU to enhance the peace and order situation with more parts of the village lighted, according to Punong Barangay Benjamin B Blanquera.
Blanquera, a graduate of electrical engineering, had been figuring out since 1991 the possible use of irrigation water to produce electricity when the concept of renewable power sources caught his fancy, through the brochures and catalogues he read.
As he observed the flow of the irrigation water in their village, it came to him that the force at the 3.5-meter drop at the edge of the canal could run turbine to produce power.
Blanquera said he experimented floating his slippers on the moving irrigation water to estimate the possible power it can generate by computing the time lapsed and came up with a conclusion that it can.
He said he had proposed to the town council years back the idea of putting up a mini-hydro power plant in that area but it did not gain support until he was elected village chief in 2007.
Blanquera invited technical people from the Department of Energy (DOE) to validate his claim that the irrigation water that drops 3.5 meters at the edge of the canal can produce electricity and came up with a positive conclusion.
In 2009, the San Vicente village officials decided to push through with the building of the mini-hydro power plant which became operational in December 2011.
Blanquera said the barangay government has already spent P300,000 for mini-hydro power plant and it can now produce electricity that can light 450 20-watt bulbs.
For its maintenance, one barangay watchman is assigned as caretaker of the mini-hydro power plant.
Barangay San Vicente, one of the 30 barangays of Baao town 33 km from Naga City, is an interior village of about 5,000 population and more than 800 households. – Bicol Mail
Streetlight … More than 100 streetlights are powered by minihydro plant.