World Bank to help rebuild power systems in Philippine region

( dpa ) - The World Bank said Friday it has approved a 12.94-million-dollar loan to the Philippines to help rebuild power supply transmission infrastructure damaged by powerful typhoons in eastern provinces in 2006.

The loan is part of the bank's emergency support to rehabilitate the Bicol region after two typhoons devastated the area in November 2006, killing more than 1,000 people, toppling power lines and burying villages in mud.

The money will be used to finance ongoing replacement of 118 transmission towers of the National Transmission Corporation (Transco) in Bicol, the World Bank said in a statement.

It added that the project will also help Transco "build stronger infrastructure that will make power supply in Bicol and the nearby areas less vulnerable to strong typhoons."

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said the project will benefit not only the residents of Bicol, but "also those who are receiving electricity from the interconnected grid.

"The new towers will be stronger and will be able to protect the affected and nearby communities better," he said. "Supply of electricity will also be more reliable."

Bert Hofman, World Bank country director, said ensuring a more reliable power supply would contribute significantly to poverty reduction efforts in Bicol, one of the most impoverished areas in the Philippines.

"The power system's capability to withstand severe weather and Transco's ability to respond to power system emergencies is essential to minimizing future losses," he added.

The economic cost of damage from the two typhoons that struck the Philippines in late 2006 has been estimated at more than 250 million dollars, which is 10 times the cost of restoring damaged power systems, the World Bank noted.

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