BILIRAN Geothermal, Inc. (BGI) has committed to hastening the construction of the geothermal power plant in the aftermath of the tropical storm that hit the island province in Eastern Visayas.

“This year’s events strengthened our resolve to see to the completion of the Biliran geothermal project,” said Guido Alfredo A. Delgado, president and chief executive officer of BGI’s parent firm Emerging Power, Inc.

“The earthquake last July and recently, the wrath of Tropical Depression Urduja emphasized Biliran’s need for an indigenous local power resource that will ensure power security for the province,” he added in his statement.

Based on latest data from the Department of Energy (DoE), BGI is building a 50-MW geothermal power plant in Biliran with a project cost of $208.021 million.

The company has completed its feasibility studies, permits and other regulatory requirements for the project, with confirmation of commerciality issued by the DoE on Dec. 28, 2014.

BGI has also secured an environmental compliance certificate for geothermal exploration drilling and the power plant on Dec. 6, 2012 and Aug. 23, 2013, respectively.

A source at the company said BGI is speeding up the forging of power supply agreements (PSA) to give it a ready market for its output, especially the first 10 MW. The PSAs will be the go-signal for the start of the power plant construction.

The DoE data listed different expected commercial operation dates for six units of the project. The first two units, each at 5 MW, are targeted to be completed by September 2018 and March 2019, respectively. The rest are scheduled to be finished between July 2021 and July 2023.

“As we maintain offices in Naval, Biliran, we too experienced the aftermath of Urduja and have extended help as best we can to the community by sharing our available resources and manpower,” Mr. Delgado said about the company’s move to expedite the project’s construction.

BGI said the project has an estimated potential of 240 MW. The DoE awarded the company the concession for the exploration, development and production of geothermal resource within a specified contract area in Biliran province.  

“The construction of the power plant will provide the stability and reliability of electricity supply in Biliran, especially in the face of natural calamities,” it said.

BGI’s parent EPI is majority owned by one of the biggest mining firms in the country, Nickel Asia Corp., which diversified its business investments to include renewable energy. — Victor V. Saulon