The Power Behind the Plant

The Power Behind the Plant

The Pantabangan and Masiway hydroelectric power plants, operated by First Gen Hydro Power Corporation (FGHPC), are reservoir-based plants located in Nueva Ecija. FGHPC utilizes the water from the Pantabangan dam for power generation, but the water is primarily used by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) for irrigation. The dam is the country’s largest and can hold up to three billion cubic meters of water. The reservoir is capable of releasing up to 1,753 million cubic meters of water to irrigate over 100,000 hectares of rice lands and to generate power.

The plants have a combined capacity of 132 MW which needs to be available for dispatch any time of the day or night. Ensuring the plants’ availability and efficiency are 58 men and women, with Plant Manager Richard Difuntorum at the helm. Richard, together with Operations Department Head, Walter “Waki” Alimusa, were more than happy to walk us through the facilities and community. “The electricity generated by FGHPC is safe, clean, and sustainable,” says Richard.

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS

Behind the machinery and rolling turbines, the women and men of the Pantabangan- Masiway plant work daily to keep the facility going.

“It’s already part of my bloodstream,” Richard says of his decades-long experience running a plant. His regular day at work starts with checking on papers and reports, a routine check on the plant to see if operations are running smoothly, and then back to his office for a review and to attend meetings and consultations with plant personnel.

“Bumababa rin siya palagi para makita niya mismo kapag may problema (He goes down and sees for himself if there are any problems),” says Waki, checking on the powerhouse and other generating equipment located below the second floor offices.

“[We] want the plant to be ready to deliver power in the most efficient way,” Richard says. He cites the plant’s reliability factor which is the ability of the plant to perform its functions under stated conditions for a specific period of time. “We strive to maintain ours at 99+%.”

Composed of five departments: Operations, Maintenance, Technical Services, Support, Quality, Environment, Safety and Health (QESH) and the Office of the Plant Head — the FGHPC team participates in various programs to maintain a safe and healthy work environment. Safety inspections, audits of the integrated management system, emergency preparedness drills, community projects and health and wellness initiatives, are some examples. “Employees take these other activities seriously, as they would their regular assignments,” says Richard. “Kina-career (They make a career out of it),” Waki stresses.

WELLNESS AT WORK

The value of wellness constitutes the core that keeps the plant’s employees, and its operations, in top shape.

“When you’re healthy, your mind is also healthy. You can deliver what is expected from you or even higher,” Richard explains. “’Pag hindi healthy yung tao, may sickness, hindi siya 100% sa trabaho (When a person isn’t healthy, if he/she is sick, he/she won’t be able to work at 100%),” he adds.

Waki shares how wellness is ingrained in FGHPC’s culture. “We don’t use the elevator except when we’re transporting heavy equipment.” The Health Unit monitors each employee’s BMI during the monthly weight watch and provides feedback on health interventions as needed. These range from advising the plant’s food providers to cut back on oil and salt, to organizing volleyball and Zumba sessions after office hours. These activities also double as recreational activities that help bring the people closer. “There are also those who play basketball and badminton,” says QESH head Mel Garcia. And the gym is available for those who want to use the treadmill and weights. Some do walling—for tennis—in front of the staffhouse. And there are some who like to bike from the staffhouse to the plant and back,” he adds. The latter is no easy feat as the distance is approximately six kilometers, through rolling hills.

“These activities comprise the after hours plant life of those of us housed here,” says Richard.

PLANT LIFE

There is much to do and to see at the Pantabangan-Masiway plant. Located up in the mountains, the complex’s lush greenery and immense body of water evoke serenity and solitude. A three to four-hour drive from Manila, the plant remains isolated from the hustle and bustle.

The Pantabangan- Masiway plant community reflects the value of balance and wellness both—physically and mentally, as well as socially and emotionally—and they demonstrate how this value is crucial toward becoming your best self and for developing the best teams.

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