First Gen halts run of natural gas plant

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FIRST GEN Corp. has paused the operation of one of its natural gas-fired plants after an incidence of power tripping.

The Lopez-led energy firm said it would not be dispatching power from its 414-megawatt (MW) San Gabriel power plant while it was investigating the electrical fault.

An initial probe by Siemens Power Operations, Inc. noted an electrical fault in the generator, “and pending completion of the inspection, the plant has been declared as unavailable for dispatch,” First Gen told the stock exchange on Thursday.

“Once the investigation is completed, we will provide the estimate of the expected return to service of the San Gabriel plant,” it added.

The San Gabriel mid-merit generator is one of the company’s four natural gas facilities located in its energy complex in Batangas. It started delivering power to the Luzon grid in November 2016.


It also has a full-year power supply contract with Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest distribution utility.

In the first semester of 2020, First Gen’s natural gas plants delivered P4.5 billion in recurring income, down by 16% as it continues to suffer from low electricity sales in the second quarter. They posted a 17% drop in revenues – making up 61% of its parent’s top line – due to lower average natural gas prices and a decline in their dispatch.

First Gen has earmarked $18 million next year for its gas plants, including budgets for the life extension of its 1,000-MW Santa Rita, 500-MW San Lorenzo, and 97-MW Avion power generators, its officials said in a recent stockholders’ meeting.

Besides natural gas generators, First Gen also has a portfolio of hydropower plants, as well as geothermal, solar, and wind power facilities through its subsidiary Energy Development Corp.

Shares in First Gen dropped by 1.96% to close at P25 apiece on Thursday. — Adam J. Ang