FOUR Filipino firms took part in the pre-negotiation conference for the sale of the 650-megawatt (MW) Malaya Thermal Power Plant and its underlying land in Pililla, Rizal, according to the state-led Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.

In a press release shared late Wednesday, PSALM said that the four were Sta. Clara International Corporation, VBB Trucking Trading and Consultancy Services, Inc., Fort Pilar Energy, Inc., and AC Energy Philippines, Inc.

The pre-negotiation conference, which was held on Tuesday, gave the interested bidders a chance to discuss concerns and issues about the terms of the Malaya plant’s third round of negotiated sale.

“We welcome the inputs and comments from the interested parties on the terms of the negotiated sale process. Their active participation in the pre-negotiation conference makes us very optimistic that they will participate in the Offer Submission Deadline this coming April,” PSALM President and Chief Executive Officer Irene Joy J. Besido Garcia was quoted as saying in a statement.

The offer submission deadline for the Malaya plant and its underlying land is on April 23 at 12:00 p.m.

Previously, PSALM identified five firms, including Chinese construction company China Gezhouba Group Co., Ltd, which expressed their interest in the negotiated sale.

The minimum price for the Malaya plant and its assets was reduced to around P1.85 billion from P2.01 billion, which was the minimum price set in the second round of negotiated sale.

The plant is made up of two power generating units with a capacity of 300-MW and 350-MW, respectively. The facility is currently being dispatched as a “must-run” unit or a generating unit that is required to operate only when needed for energy security, according to the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.

The Department of Energy (DoE) previously said that the mounting bill for the Malaya plant had forced PSALM to pursue a negotiated sale for it, citing unsustainable maintenance costs and years of failed auctions.

According to its 37th status report on the implementation of Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or 2001, the DoE said that it costs around P1.2 billion a year to maintain the plant. The figure was based on the Malaya plant’s upkeep between 2010 to 2019.

In September, PSALM declared a failure of its third-round auction to privatize the power plant and its assets, since the two pre-qualified bidders Panasia Energy, Inc. and AC Energy Philippines did not submit a bid. The auction floor price at that time was P2.19 billion, less than half of the previous round’s minimum price of P4.48-billion.

By selling its assets through orderly means, PSALM aims to liquidate all of the National Power Corp.’s financial obligations and stranded contract costs in an optimal manner. — Angelica Y. Yang