The Power Plants of Laguna

The intake at Caliraya Reservoir.

It was my last week at work and I got the chance to join my colleagues in a plant visit in Laguna. This generation company we are trading for consists of 3 main hydroelectric power plants: Caliraya, Botocan and Kalayaan, all located in the province of Laguna. Plant inspections, meeting with personnel and presentations packed our 2-day itinerary.

It was a 4-hour land journey from Quezon City to Kalayaan, Laguna. We rented a van that accommodated all 14 of us. Check out our land route below c/o Google Maps.

The first time I went to the area was way back 1997, 15 years ago. We camped around the Caliraya Lake at that time. 10 years after, together with my classmates at the university, I visited the old towns of Laguna. Yes, I’m getting old, like the rest of the world ^_^. And speaking of old age, these power plants we visited had endured years and are now considered 3 of the oldest plants in the Philippines.

First stop: Kalayaan Hydrolectric Power Plants

This is the biggest plant among the 3. It has 4 units, each with 180MW generation capacity per day and has a pumping capability. The operation is pretty simple: the units pump water from the Caliraya reservoir which will be used to run its turbines and generate electricity. Heck! I’m not an electrical or mechanical engineer and that is the most layman description I could give. Bear with me.

The personnel at Kalayaan Power Plant. I like the contrast of sizes in this photo.

Another “Big&Small” photo of the helipad and personnel at the Kalayaan Power Plant.

2nd Stop: Botocan Hydroelectric Power Plant

The most interesting plant among the three, in my opinion, is the Botocan Hydroelectric Power Plant because of the history attached to it. Located at the town of Majayjay, it was commissioned a year after the end of the World War II. Once a major power generator in Luzon, now it has a limited capacity of 23MW and often generates as little as 10MW a day.

From the Kalayaan plants, we drove for about 30-45 minutes to Botocan. It is currently on standby due to the replacement and repair of damaged and stolen transmission lines. From the control area, we took a mechanical cage lift down to the stream.

A 15-minute ride in this lift down to the ravine.

If you are acrophobic, they have an alternative: 546 steps. Some of my colleagues took this one on the way back up. The time that took them to climb the stairs and for us, in the lift, to reach the starting point is amazingly the same. I’m proud of them.

The steps beside the Botocan penstock. I love heights so I didn’t opt for this less dangerous but more tiring alternative. :D

The Botocan Stream embraced by untouched greenery; I got a feeling of isolation from this place which was a good breather after visiting the noisy turbines down under.

A photo I took while braving the lift.

3rd stop: Caliraya Hydroelectric Power Plant and Caliraya Reservoir

I have to stay that the 3rd plant visit is the most fun and relaxed of all. The personnel at the plant were very friendly and accommodating. And, thank God, the generator rooms were even airconditioned unlike the first 2 we inspected. The plant manager even toured us around the old housing area after I told him that I dream of living in a wooden house outside the city someday.

The Caliraya Power Plant has a total generation of 28MW a day.

We saw this one of the two women fishing at the edge of the lake, carrying a net and a fishing rod. The guards instructed them to leave at once because fishing is prohibited in the area. I felt sad while thinking that sometimes sacrifices must be done for the benefit of many. But ironically, those “many” are the privileged few. The high electricity rates in the Philippines limit the capability of those below the poverty line to avail of this benefit.

B&W version of the intake at Caliraya Reservoir.

The authorized visit or field trip to these plants can be an eye-opening experience for people who wish to understand the importance of electricity generation and the responsibility of maintaining a sustainable environment while benefitting from the conveniences of modern life. I heard the these plants, especially the Botocan Power Plant, are open for students who want to visit this one of the oldest power plants in the country. For more information about the first power plants in the Philippines, check here.

Finally, thank you ETD for my last plant visit. I will miss you.

ETD traders and Kalayaan Plant personnel (minus the photographer, Annabee Tiangson)

More photos: The Beauty in Nuts & Bolts

I’ve recently received numerous messages asking for the contact numbers of the Caliraya Power Plants. I have to say that I’m in no position to give their contact details as I no longer work for/with my previous company and I was never a staff of the power plant. Thanks!


7 thoughts on “The Power Plants of Laguna

  1. helo po..I’m an electrical engineering 4th year student of JRMSU..I just like to know if the power plant will accept OJT applicants.

  2. Hi good morning! I am a UP engineering student and I am in need of some information regarding Botocan hydroelectric plant. I need to know the upper and lower reservoir of the plant and also some equipments specs. However research i made in the internet, i can’t seem to find these data. Can you please help me?? I’ll appreciate it much. Thanks!

  3. ok po. Engineering student kasi ako sa La Salle lipa, we need to visit different power plants kasi and I cant find their contact numbers online.. Cge po tnx any way..

    • I was a government employee back then trading for KPSPP and it was part of our job to visit the plants. I’m afraid I am not in a position to recommend any contact information about the plant visit. I suggest though that you try searching for their contact numbers online and calling them.

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