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For citrus farmer Rudy Caanawan, the citrus seedlings he raises mean a future filled with truckloads of oranges, lemons and other citrus varieties. The seedlings he maintains were given to his tribe, the Bugkalots, by CalEnergy Generation, the MidAmerican subsidiary operating in the Philippines.
Caanawan and members of his tribe live near CalEnergy's Casecnan Project, a combined irrigation and hydroelectric power project in the northern part of the main island of Luzon. The project collects the excess water of the Casecnan and Taan Rivers in two 30-meter high weirs and transports it through a 26-kilometer underground tunnel to an underground generating station and then to the existing Pantabangan Reservoir. The project adds 150 megawatts of hydroelectric capacity to the Luzon grid. It also irrigates 31,000 hectares of agricultural lands and stabilizes the water supply to 102,000 hectares of existing irrigated areas. This results in an additional harvest of 465,000 tons of rice per year, which is crucial in the Philippines' goal of attaining self-sufficiency in rice production.
One part of this effort includes the Citrus Seedling Project. A total of 100,000 citrus seedlings were distributed to the Bugkalot families for planting. A total of 150 hectares have been developed into citrus orchards. Three hundred Bugkalot families now own and manage their own one-half hectare citrus farms.
Coastal and Marine Restoration
CalEnergy is actively involved with environmental initiatives. One such project involves the coastal village of Barangay Naungan. For decades, the residents of this small community have relied on fishing as their primary source of income.
Increased population and industrialization resulted in environmental damage to area marine life. As a result, the natives began to lose their income and were exposed to significant health risks from the polluted environment. CalEnergy helped rectify the situation by signing an agreement with city government and village officials to help restore Barangay Naungan's coast and marine resources. The project, known as Baywatch Ormoc, called for long-term protection from further degradation and enlisted fishermen, whose livelihood is most directly tied to this effort, as key players.
CalEnergy assumed a leadership role by sponsoring a number of initial training sessions to educate the public and encourage other groups to join. Following each session, clean-up activities were organized where the whole community worked together to improve the surrounding area. The support and participation of the residents has led to the issuance of a city ordinance declaring the village a Marine Reservation Area, the first of its kind in the region. This site now is designated as a breeding area for marine life and a protected aquatic resource.
Replenishing Forest Cover
Looking to be good stewards of the environment, CalEnergy's Philippine employees led a drive in 2004 to replenish the forest cover in the Central Luzon Valley. A 2003 satellite picture of the watershed indicated the forest cover was thinning in some areas, largely brought about by illegal logging activities. CalEnergy employees responded by joining a local coalition organized by corporate social responsibility, to plant some 5,000 mahogany seedlings in a three-hectare area near the Casecnan plant site. CalEnergy and the National Irrigation Authority are collectively working on a pilot reforestation project of approximately 120 hectares of land.