Luzon gets 1,724-MW power pledges
Luzon grid is already straining close to power supply derailment, but the Department of Energy (DOE) is easing ‘public panic’ by announcing that 1,724.65 megawatts of additional capacity had already been committed to the grid.
In the department’s roll of firmed up power projects are mix of coal-fired power plants, gas-fed and renewable energy facilities. These are due on-line from 2015 to 2017.
The coal plants that the department has been expecting to add up to the grid’s capacity are the 270-MW Puting Bato project of South Luzon Thermal Energy Corporation (SLTEC) of the Trans-Asia-Ayala group (two phases at 135MW each); the 300-MW expansion project of the Calaca coal-fired plant of DMCI group; as well as the 82-MW coal-fired project of Anda Power Corporation in Mabalacat, Pampanga.
The natural gas-fired power facility is the 100-MW aero-derivative designed project of First Gen Corporation. Its 440-MW San Gabriel gas-fired expansion power project which broke ground last January is still in the indicative list though.
The bigger capacity of gas plant being expected by the DOE for commercial development is the 600-MW Pagbilao project of Energy World Corporation. Sponsors, however, have yet to prove tangibly to the public that things are really moving at the project site.
The rest of the projects are ‘sprinkles’ of RE-based technologies such as biomass, wind and hydropower facilities. Of these, the biggest-capacity ventures are the wind facilities of Energy Development Corporation (EDC) at 87MW in Burgos, Ilocos Norte; 81MW wind project of UPC Asia in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte; and the 67.5MW wind power project of Alternergy Wind One Corporation.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla noted that they are expecting a big capacity plant shifting from “indicative” to a “committed” project, but he begged to keep details under wraps because of the project sponsor’s pending negotiations for financing.
The Aquino administration is facing its biggest challenge of sparing the country from another round of power crisis. And while it is already running out of time to maneuver on putting up viable remedies, the quixotic and risky approach on rates regulation may yet pull the domestic power industry to doom.
Beyond regulatory risks, Petilla indicated that some projects may be delayed due to problems on financing and local government approvals.
And on the projects already cast, the energy chief noted that summer months could still be worrisome because some anticipated RE capacities may not contribute to supply, primarily when the wind is not blowing.
“We cannot rely on wind during summer… we will have a problem if one project of 200MW that we are expecting won’t push through… nevertheless, we have not included that in the committed capacity yet,” Petilla said.