A US, IOWA-BASED UTILITY company is in the process of completing the Casecnan project in the Philippines, one of the world’s largest multi-purpose projects. The reservoir created by the project is expected to provide enough irrigation water for rice fields, enabling the Philippines to become a net exporter of food. At the time of going to press the hydro plant at the US$645M project – built by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. of Des Moines – was expected to start generating electricity (late September 2001).

The hydro plant will generate US$120M a year in revenue for the company through to 2021. The plant will then be handed over to the country’s federal government.

Work began on Casecnan six years ago and employed more than 2500 workers. It is about a year behind schedule. The investments in the project will bring MidAmerican’s outlay in the Philippines to US1.4B, where the company already has geothermal electric plants.

The Casecnan project is a combined irrigation and hydroelectric scheme in the northern part of the main island of Luzon. The project will collect excess water from the Casecnan and Taan rivers in two 30m high weirs and transport it through a 26km transbasin tunnel to the existing Pantabangan reservoir. The hydro plant has an installed capacity of 180MW (2X90MW). It will also irrigate 31,000 new hectares of agricultural land and stabilise the water supply to 102,000ha of existing irrigated areas, resulting in an additional harvest of 465,000 tons of rice per year.