A TOTAL of 14 groups have shown interest in the 165-megawatt Casecnan hydroelectric power plant in Nueva Ecija that the government plans to sell to the private sector, state-led Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) said on Tuesday.

Dennis Edward A. Dela Serna, president and chief executive officer of PSALM, said in a media release that he envisions the sale of the run-of-river type hydropower facility to be “successful, efficient and judicious” for the seller and the winning bidder.

He made the statement after the company held its second and third pre-bid conferences on Jan. 25 and 27, during which interested bidders had a chance to inquire and clarify the terms and conditions of the sale.

Mr. Dela Serna said the second pre-bid conference “paves the way for a good return on investment for the winning bidder.”

PSALM identified the prospective bidders as Fresh River Lakes Corp.; Neptune Hydro, Inc.; Sta. Clara International Corp.; GigaAce 11, Inc.; Pan Pacific Renewable Power Phils. Corp.; and Semirara Mining and Power Corp.

The others are Global Hydro Power Corp.; Belgrove Power Corp.; Axia Power Holdings Philippines Corp.; Panasia Energy, Inc.; Hansan Solar Corp.; San Roque Power Corp.; joint EEI Power Corp., Soosan ENS Co. Ltd., Soosan Industries Co. Ltd.; and Peakpoint, Inc.

PSALM said the asset, which has a limited water impounding area, is being privatized on an “as is, where is” and cash basis. The deadline for bids was adjusted to March 28 at noon from the initial deadline of Feb. 24.

PSALM, the agency tasked to privatize state assets, said that during the second and third pre-bid conferences, the interested bidders asked about the bidding process and potential concerns from the management of the Casecnan plant.

Among the topics discussed is the role of the winning bidder in leading the development or crafting of the special use agreement in protected areas together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Other matters in the discussion include water permits for power generation and irrigation; other permits currently enforced or to be secured by the winning bidder; rights when the new owner takes over the management of the plant; and safety considerations before inspecting the plant.

Tax regulations and laws that could impact the prospective new owner of Casecnan as well as “the observance of Indigenous Peoples” were also discussed during the pre-bid conference.

Casecnan was turned over to the government last year after the build-operate-transfer contract with the previous operator, Casecnan Water and Energy Co., Inc., expired on Dec. 11, 2021. It is located at Sitio Pauan, Brgy. Villarica, Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija. — Ashley Erika O. Jose