Corporate News

By Carmelito Q. Francisco, Correspondent

AboitizPower cuts ribbon on 300-MW plant, gears up for geothermal

Posted on January 09, 2016

DAVAO CITY -- Aboitiz Power Corp. (AboitizPower) formally inaugurated yesterday its 300-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant here operated by subsidiary Therma South, Inc. (TSI)., with President Benigno S. C. Aquino III in attendance.

“When this plant becomes fully operational, we can count on it to consistently produce 300 megawatts of baseload power, which means that this capacity can be tapped into anytime, rain or shine, with very minor fluctuations,” Mr. Aquino said in his speech during the inauguration ceremony in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.

“To emphasize just how significant this is, this plant’s dependable capacity is roughly equivalent to one-fifth of the Mindanao grid’s highest peak demand in 2015-and it is already delivering power to areas at the end of the grid, such as Sarangani, General Santos, and the Zamboanga peninsula,” Mr. Aquino said.

The company’s next move is a potential geothermal facility in a 20,000-hectare portion of the Mt. Apo reservation, particularly within the villages of Sibulan and Kapatagan.

Manuel M. Orig, AboitizPower first vice president for Mindanao, said the company will pursue the geothermal plant, which will be undertaken through Aboitiz Power Renewables Inc., only after a potential output of at least 50 MW is verified.

“Geothermal power is the most expensive power to produce,” Mr. Orig said on the sidelines of the TSI plant inauguration.

Mr. Orig said there is no estimate yet on the full cost to set up the renewable energy facility with a target installed capacity of 200 MW.

“As soon as we get the permits we will immediately start the exploration,” said Mr. Orig, noting that the company has already secured the endorsement of the local government units within the exploration area.

“We will pursue this project as part of our desire to increase our renewable energy portfolio,” Mr. Orig said.

Another AboitizPower unit, Hedcor Bukidnon, Inc., is currently building a 68.8-megawatt (MW) hydropower project in Bukidnon province in Northern Mindanao.

The P12.5-billion hydropower project, utilizing the Tagoloan River, will have two units with capacities of 43.4 MW and 25.4 MW.

Meanwhile, the planned expansion of the coal-fired power plant inaugurated yesterday will be on hold as the company assesses the plant’s performance and the demand for more power sources in Mindanao.

“We will look into the performance of the plant as well as the need (of Mindanao) for more power sources,” said Mr. Orig.

About a year after starting the project in 2010, the company announced it would expand it to 645 MW.

The first 150-MW unit of the plant started commercial operations in September last year while the second unit is currently undergoing synchronization with the Mindanao grid.

AboitizPower said the plant currently supplies baseload power to more than 20 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities in Mindanao.

The company said the P35 billion plant -- which houses the country’s first coal dome -- is not dependent on weather conditions and will be “able to continue generating much needed power even with Mindanao experiencing dry spells caused by El Niño this year and the droughts occurring roughly once every decade.”

Mr. Aquino said other private-sector partners of the government have committed to undertake at least another 11 power projects in Mindanao “that will come online between 2016 and 2020.”

He said these projects are expected to produce at least another 675.30 megawatts of capacity “which will be more than enough to cover the projected increase in demand for those years.” -- with Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza