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Non-profit group donates small hydro project to help preserve World Heritage Site

International electric power producers have donated a $1 million small hydroelectric plant to the Philippine government that will raise funds to help save the country's famous rice terraces, officials reported.

The 220-KW plant donated by the non-profit group e8 is now operating in the northern Ifugao province, home to 4,000 square miles of rice terraces carved out of the mountainsides some 2,000 years ago and irrigated by spring waters.

The terraces, the main tourist attraction in the northern Cordillera region, were included in the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2001.

Johane Meagher, e8 executive director, said that the hydropower plant's $70,000 in annual revenue will go to a conservation fund to rehabilitate the ancient rice fields. The project will also showcase sustainable rural energy development, she said in a statement.

The group turned over the plant to the Department of Energy at a recent ceremony in Manila, said Mario Marasigan, director of the Renewable Energy Management Bureau.

The plant, built by Tokyo Electric Power Company, has been connected to the region's main grid, providing about 18 percent of Ifugao's power needs, Marasigan said.

Canada-based e8 comprises 10 electric power producers from seven members of the G8 - the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Germany and Russia.

Created in the wake of the 1992 Rio Summit, the e8 is a non-profit international organization whose mission is to play an active role in global electricity issues within the international framework and to promote sustainable energy development through electricity sector projects and human capacity building activities in developing and emerging nations worldwide.

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