By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor

FIRST GEN Corp. is not giving up on its plan to build run-of-river hydroelectric power plants as the Lopez-led company is now “strengthening its expertise” in the construction and development of such facilities.

The preparation is aimed at starting the construction of the 32-megawatt (MW) Bubunawan run-of-river hydro power project “subject to clarity in the Philippine market and regulatory regime,” First Gen said in an information statement submitted to the stock exchange on Wednesday.

“The project is located in Mindanao,” the company said, adding that it has licenses to develop “at least four” other run-of-river hydro projects in Mindanao, including the 33-MW Tagoloan and 30-MW Puyo facilities. It cited a project in Cagayan, although no capacity was mentioned.

In May last year, First Gen announced that it was putting on hold plans to develop run-of-river hydro projects after the Department of Energy (DoE) decided not to extend the feed-in-tariff (FiT) for the technology. The FiT scheme offers a guaranteed payment for the electricity produced by such facilities for 20 years.

Early this year, however, the DoE said it was inclined to extend the scheme for run-of-river hydro plants by another two years starting this year, although it has yet to issue a circular to formalize such move.

Aside from the hydro facilities, First Gen said it has “projects in the pipeline at varying degrees of development.”

“[The company] continues to pursue and employ its pioneering efforts for natural gas by developing an import and regasification LNG [liquefied natural gas] terminal by 2023. Its planned construction and operation is in preparation for the eventual exhaustion of the Malampaya gas field and also to support the development of the Philippine gas industry,” First Gen said.

The company continues to work on various development activities “to be able to advance the project and make a final investment decisions.”

The LNG terminal’s front end engineering design has been completed and is now going through a tender for the engineering, procurement and construction contract. The initial phase of the planned site development has also been completed.

First Gen said it was also evaluating the construction of two 450-MW natural gas-fired power plants, which it named Santa Maria and Saint Joseph.

“The commissioning of the plants will be planned in coordination with the progress of the development of the LNG terminal,” the company said.

First Gen also said it had secured five geothermal projects through the execution of renewable energy contracts with the Department of Energy.

“Surveys and resource assessments of these projects are being finalized,” it said.

The company has 10 wind energy service contracts, nine of which are undergoing feasibility studies. It also has six solar energy service contracts, four of which are undergoing feasibility studies.

In 2017, First Gen reported a net income attributable to equity holders of the parent company of $134.42 million, 33% lower than the $199.59 million generated in the previous year.