By Carmencita A. Carillo, Correspondent

Sarangani coal plant 42% complete

Posted on May 19, 2014

MAASIM, SARANGANI -- Sarangani Energy Corp.’s 210-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Barangay Kamanga here is 42% complete as of April and will be operational by October 2015.

Sarangani Energy Corp.’s 210-megawatt coal-fired power plant, part of which is shown under construction in this photo, is expected to be fully operational by 2016. -- Carmencita A. Carillo
“The plant, with an initial capacity of 105-MW will be operational by October 2015 and will reach the full 210-MW capacity by 2016,” Nicandro R. Fucoy, Sarangani Energy vice-president for project implementation, said during a media briefing and tour of the plant’s facilities on Friday.

The power plant, which occupies a 23.2-hectare area inside the 54-hectare Kamanga Agro-Industrial Ecozone, now employs 1,625 workers, with 82% from the host community.

Because of its location, the company is entitled to enjoy perks and benefits, including income tax holidays and duty-free importation of equipment for the plant.

It is under the Alsons Power Holdings, Inc. and located in the municipality of Maasim, four kilometers from General Santos City.

Alsons is a Mindanao-based conglomerate controlled by the Alcantara family, which was formerly into logging and wood processing.

The plant’s initial 105-MW (Section 1) output will provide power to around 3.47 million people in Sarangani, General Santos City, South Cotabato, Compostela Valley, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Tagum City, Samal Island, and most parts of Davao del Norte.

Even before Section 1 of the coal-fired power plant is completed, it is already 100%-contracted as the company has already entered into 25-year power sales agreements with the South Cotabato Electric Cooperative for 70 MW, the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative for 15 MW, Agusan del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. for 10 MW and the Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc. for 10 MW.

“The coal-fired power plant is the single biggest investment in Sarangani Province and the entire Region 12 (Soccsksargen),” said Maasim Mayor Aniceto P. Lopez.

The 210-MW coal plant has a total cost of $570 million. Section 1 of the plant alone costs $309 million, including the transmission lines.

The 52,000-hectare municipality of Maasim is a fishing community of 40 barangays inhabited by around 62,000 people. With a meager P5-million revenue from local taxes, the municipal government largely relies on the P121-million Internal Revenue Allotment from the national government for most of its projects.

With the power plant, however, Maasim is set to get approximately P15 million per year, with a 2% share in the gross income earned by the plant. The municipality will also get P550,000 in terms of real property taxes every year.

“We are one if not the poorest municipality here. The coal power plant was given by God to this war-torn municipality,” Mr. Lopez said.

Many of the residents here are members of the New People’s Army or the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, but with the coal-fired plant in place, the mayor said, most of them are now working with Sarangani Energy.

Mr. Lopez also said the number one critic of the coal-fired power plant is the Catholic Church, but he does not care because majority of the residents agree with his decision to allow the construction of the plant, resulting in his re-election in 2013. The mayor has been supportive of the power plant ever since the idea was hatched in 2010, so he considers it his legacy.

The coal-fired power plant had been the target of many advocacy groups, including international environment group Greenpeace. The group’s campaign ship Rainbow Warrior docked at Makar Wharf in General Santos City in 2010 to support local protest actions against the power plant.

Greenpeace has been urging governments worldwide to take action against climate change by opting for renewable energy sources instead of coal-fired power plants.

Sarangani Bay, which measures 215,950 hectares, is the location of Alson Powers’ coal-fired power plant was declared a protected seascape in 1996.

The company said it has committed to protect the bay by not drawing or discharging water from or into it.

“We will source our cooling water from the Siguil River, which is 12 kilometers from the plant site. The company is presently installing the underground water pipes that will connect the plant to the river,” said Fernando Corrales, plant project manager.

A water treatment plant is being constructed where the used cooling water will be treated before it will be poured into an aquaculture plant where tilapia will be raised.

“This will be the only power plant that will not only produce power but also fishes. This will be the showcase of the safe technology we are implementing here,” Mr. Corrales added.

Mr. Fucoy said the coal plant will use clean coal technology with the use of a circulating fluidized bed boiler and low-sulfur coal from Kalimantan, Indonesia. The boiler, which is about the size of a 15-storey building, will be the main structure of the power plant.

“Some people argue there is no clean coal, but we follow the Clean Air Act standards when it comes to mercury, sulfur and other emissions. All our emissions will be below the levels prescribed by the government,” Mr. Fucoy said.