SP New Energy Corp. (SPNEC) expects to start construction for its over 3,000-hectare solar plant expansion in Nueva Ecija within the year, its top official said on Thursday.

“The company will break ground this year on the Nueva Ecija expansion, which will be wholly owned or controlled by SPNEC,” said the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer Leandro Antonio L. Leviste in a media briefing.

Mr. Leviste added that the company had invested the bulk of the proceeds from its capital-raising activities in the expansion. This includes the company’s P2.8 billion stock rights offering and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.’s initial investment of P2 billion.

“One of the directions that the company is taking is to focus our capital and investments on the projects that we have controlling stakes in,” he said.

Mr. Leviste said in a statement that the company has ongoing discussions on its shareholding arrangements in certain projects, to find solutions that will benefit all parties.

He said he could not disclose certain discussions out of “deference to the company’s partners.”

“We believe that it is in SPNEC’s interest to invest in projects where it has a controlling stake and that SPNEC is best served by allocating its capital to projects where this is the case,” he added.

The Nueva Ecija expansion is located in the same area as its 350-hectare solar farm its first project in the province.

The company said that it had been consolidating land and permits since 2016 when it applied for its first solar energy service contract with the Department of Energy in the area.

“The clustering of projects in the same area also supports the development of transmission, which would extend over 60 kilometers to connect to [National Grid Corp. of the Philippines’] substations that supply the greater Manila area,” the company said.

It added that the new expansion will bring its total land area to 3,500 hectares, which could make it “one of the world’s largest solar power plants.”

The company was recently suspended by the Philippine Stock Exchange as its public float decreased below 20%. — Adrian H. Halili