As the water source for almost 85 000 hectares of rice fields downstream, Magat’s main purpose is irrigation.
The plant is served by a large reservoir with a usable storage capacity of 670 million cubic meters, the equivalent of about two months’ production. The reservoir and dam, including the intake gates, are owned and operated by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), who also dictates the water level in Magat’s reservoir. A re-regulating pond are constructed downstream of the Magat power plant and are also owned and operated by NIA. This re-regulating pond facilitates peak hour power generation while water for irrigation is evenly discharged into the irrigation canals.
Magat is designed as a peaking plant, and each generating unit has the capability to be on-line and deliver electricity to the system in less than two minutes. The units are started/stopped approximately 300 times a year. During periods of overflow, some energy is delivered outside peaking hours.
25 per cent of Magat’s output has Power Purchase Agreements (PPA). The rest is sold at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). Magat is also a large provider of ancillary services to the system operator, National Grid Companny of the Philippines. To optimize use of energy, Magat is operated mainly during peak hours when it can meet the need for electricity while also taking irrigation requirements into account.
The Magat project was initiated in 1975, but it was not until 1980 that construction work started and three years later in 1983 the plant was in commercial operation.
The plant is prepared for extension. Inlet arrangements for two more units are built in the existing dam construction. Investigation into the expansion of Magat in ongoing and may enhance capacity from 70 to 100 per cent.
Sustainable development in the local community
Magat forms an important backbone in the local community both from employment and local revenue perspectives. Upon taking over Magat, SN Aboitiz Power retained almost the entire workforce.
CSR programs are established to enable the company to do strategic development projects in all Magat’s host communities. The programs focus the support on self-sustainable long-term projects strengthening Environmental Management, Livelihood and Eco-tourism, Primary Healthcare, Education and Social Infrastructure. Significant watershed management programs are also implemented.