Renewable energy developer plans country’s ‘first power REIT’ offering

By Angelica Y. Yang

RENEWABLE energy firm Citicore Power, Inc. has allocated P4 billion in capital expenditures (capex) for solar and hydro projects, as the firm plans to list a power portfolio in the local bourse this year, the firm’s top official said.

“A total of 4 billion (pesos) for 2021. This is the capex plan…Around 2.5 (billion pesos) for solar projects. And then for the hydro, this will be built across three years, so the capex for the hydro is around 1.5 (billion pesos),” Citicore Power President Oliver Y. Tan told BusinessWorld in a phone interview on Feb. 23.

He explained that the capex would be funded through a debt-equity mix, as the firm plans this year to hold what could be the country’s “first power REIT offering,” referring to real estate investment trust or an entity with different types of property assets that bring steady earnings for investors.

“We are looking to tap the capital markets within the year. We are planning to do a power REIT, hopefully within the year to be listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange. It will initially hold (the) operating, the 163 megawatts (MW), operating plants (of Citicore) and then it will be able to free up equity such that we can reinvest the fund to build new solar plants, new projects,” Mr. Tan said.

Citicore Power owns and operates eight solar farms with a total capacity of 163 MW. It has facilities in Bulacan, Clark, Cebu, Bataan, South Cotabato, Tarlac, and Negros Occidental.

Mr. Tan earlier said that the operating solar farms help in “reducing around approximately 240,000 tons of carbon emissions annually.”

Citicore Power is planning to begin the construction of a 50-megawatt alternating current (MWac) solar farm in Arayat and Mexico, Pampanga, by the second week of March. Earlier, Mr. Tan said that the firm is targeting the project’s commercial run by year end.

The Pampanga facility, a joint venture with Ayala Corp.’s energy arm, is the first project that would contribute to Citicore Power’s goal of reaching a total capacity of 1.5 gigawatts by 2025. This would be on top of the capacity that the company’s existing solar farms are producing.

Mr. Tan also said that the firm is looking at building run-of-river hydro projects in Isabela.

“We actually started the access road construction last year, but got stuck because of the pandemic. We hope to resume within the year,” he said.

Asked about the effect on the government’s coal moratorium on the public’s outlook on clean energy, the Citicore Power executive said that the move would encourage more investments in renewables.

“Financial resources from both banks and the private equity funds (would be) rechanneled (into) what was formerly allocated for coal projects. You would see that it would be rechanneled to fund more and more renewable energy projects,” Mr. Tan said.

Citicore Power is a wholly owned subsidiary of Citicore Holdings, Inc. Citicore Holdings’ affiliate companies include Megawide Construction Corp. and airport operations vehicle GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp.

Among Citicore Power’s subsidiaries are: Silay Solar Power, Inc., Next Generation Power Technology, First Toledo Energy Corp., Rio Norte Hydro Corp., and Citicore Energy Solutions, Inc.