TYPHOON Pepeng has delayed the rehabilitation of Ambuklao dam forcing multinational company, SN Aboitiz Power Corporation (Snap) to extend its rehabilitation until 2011.

The company was expected to complete the rehabilitation of the 75-megawatt (MW) Ambuklao hydroelectric power plant by the end of the year. But after assessing damages brought by last year's typhoons, Snap officials had no choice but to extend work until the last quarter of 2011.

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Mike Hosillos, vice president for corporate services, said a new tunnel has to be constructed as silt infiltrated a major tunnel on the system.

SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet (Snap-Benguet) ran into problems in completing the plugging of the existing plant headrace tunnel, which was needed to connect a new water intake and tunnel to the turbines for the generation of electricity.

The problem was only discovered a month ago and did not manifest after the onslaught of the 2009 storms. This prompted the company to abandon the old tunnel and construct a new one to allow water to flow to the new turbines.

Initially, the SN Aboitiz Power Group was pegged to spend P12.6 billion to rehabilitate the Ambuklao and 100-MW Binga hydroelectric power plants.

Snap-Benguet chief executive officer Emmanuel V. Rubio said "despite the current challenges, we are committed to restore the Ambuklao plant and enable it to generate at a higher capacity. (Maria Elena Catajan)