THE National Power Corp. (Napocor) expects the government to make a decision in April on the rehabilitation of the Agus hydroelectric power complex in Mindanao, with three options being studied by the World Bank.
“We’re looking at three options. One is attain the rated capacity, second is increase by 10% the capacity, third is improve the water efficiency,” Pio J. Benavidez, Napocor president and chief executive officer, told reporters after a news conference for an energy event on Tuesday.
The Agus hydro power asset has installed capacity of at least 700 megawatts (MW), with the biggest coming from the 200-MW Agus VI in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte. Agus VI has five operating units, two of which have a capacity of 25 MW each and the remaining three with 50 MW each.
Of the seven separate sites for the Agus hydro power plants, only one Agus III has not been completed. But most of the plants within the complex are operating below their rated capacity, giving plant operator Napocor a lower dependable power output.
The complex, which is owned by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), remains in government hands after the passage of Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), the law that restructured the industry and privatized the state’s energy assets.
Mr. Benavidez said improving the efficiency of the Agus complex could be attained by expanding the size of the river and dredging. He said the selection of the best option will be done by the National Economic and Development Authority, along with Napocor and the Department of Finance, the secretary of which chairs the agency’s board.
Mr. Benavidez said the cost of rehabilitating the Agus complex could be between P37 billion and P40 billion. He said the funding will not be sourced from China, as previously considered, but from multilateral lending agencies, including those from France, Australia and Japan. He did not identify the entities.
“Once rehabilitated, it can easily be sold. Its value would be high,” he said.
He said the options to be presented by the World Bank should be ready by April, after which Napocor could start its own feasibility study based on the option selected by the government.
He targets the feasibility study’s completion by April 2020, with the start of the rehabilitation shortly after. The Pulangi hydro complex, a separate government asset, has been isolated from the Agus rehabilitation project.
The Pulangi hydroelectric power plant in Maramag, Bukidnon has three units, each with an installed capacity of 85 MW.
The power generation facilities are considered Mindanao’s crown jewels, and as such their privatization is being opposed by stakeholders in the area. — Victor V. Saulon