Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dutch seek to harness energy from salt water mix
Associated Press 7:10 AM | Thursday, November 27th, 2014

AMSTERDAM — Dutch researchers are seeking to add a new, largely untapped renewable energy source to the world’s energy mix with the opening of a “Blue Energy” test facility on Wednesday.

Blue energy takes advantage of the difference in salt concentration between sea water and fresh water to produce electricity.

Rik Siebers of REDstack BV, the company overseeing the project, said the goal is to improve the technology to the point where it will be profitable to build blue energy plants commercially in the 2020s.

Siebers said blue energy will one day have its own niche.

“For wind turbines you need wind, and solar panels work in the day, but water is always flowing,” he said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

The Dutch plant has a theoretical maximum capacity of 50 megawatts, about enough to power 100 Dutch homes. A more limited trial of similar technology began in Norway in 2009.

The technique uses two specialized filters with salt and fresh water on each side. One filter lets positively charged sodium ions seep through, while the other admits negatively charged chlorine ions, creating a natural battery.

Each square meter of the filter panel can generate roughly one watt, and the filters are then arranged in stacks of hundreds to multiply the effect.

It’s no coincidence the technique is being pioneered in the Netherlands, which has a wealth of river-coast interchanges including the Rhine and Meuse river deltas.

The test plant is strategically located on the Afsluitdijk, the long dike built off the Dutch coast in the 1930s that turned part of the North Sea into an enormous freshwater lake.

The project is being funded by a mix of government and private sponsors, with participation by the University of Twente.  source

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Walden Bello
8:48 AM | Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

When Malacañang asked Congress for emergency powers to address a power crisis that it expected in the summer months of 2015, the impression given was that the country was facing a massive demand that would outrun available supply. In its request, the administration invoked Article 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), which states that the chief executive, “upon determination of a shortage of supply of electricity, may ask Congress for authority through a joint resolution, to establish additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions as it may approve.”

Not surprisingly, both the public and lawmakers felt that indeed the country would be facing a national emergency come early 2015.

Crying Wolf

However, from the hearings conducted by the House Committee on Energy on October 19 and November 18, the officials of the Department of Energy (DOE) were forced to admit that: 1) the so-called crisis was based not on projections that the demand for electricity in the period would exceed supply or available capacity but that meeting the peak demand would cut into and bring down the required reserves of electric power that must be maintained; and 2) that what would bring down reserves below the critical level would be the shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas fields for maintenance from mid-March to mid-April 2015.

Malampaya’s gas feeds into into three Luzon power generators–Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo, and Ilijan–so that a shutdown from maintenance would withdraw over 1000 MW of installed capacity.

While the Department of Energy has factored unexpected power outages in its projection of power supply, the key factor behind the expected shortfall is Malampaya’s temporarily going out of commission for maintenance and upgrading by its operator, Shell Inc.

A Shell-driven artificial crisis

Thus, as the House hearings revealed, the so-called crisis was not one of demand exceeding supply but one brought about by the decision of a transnational corporation to conduct its maintenance at the time of the year when demand is greatest, thus creating an artificial deficit not in available generating capacity, as the public was led to believe, but in required regulating reserves. Moreover, the deficit in required reserves would disappear if Shell were to move its maintenance to later in the year, when peak demand would be lower and more capacity would come onstream with new power plants becoming operational.

In response to questions from members of the Committee, DOE personnel said that, in fact, the scheduled maintenance could take place later in the year, as in November or December. Shell, however, wanted to undertake maintenance in March and April, when the seas are reportedly calmer.

This did not strike some members of the Committee as a good excuse, since the last time Shell did maintenance on Malampaya was during the latter part of the year, from November to December 2013. Moreover, for an oil company that is used to doing maintenance and expansion work in the most adverse conditions in the Arctic and the North Sea, having rough seas does not count as an excuse. Pressed, DOE personnel admitted that the executive could in fact tell Shell to conduct its upgrading and maintenance later in the year, and that Shell, in fact, admitted this.

So why could the DOE not press Shell to do its maintenance work on Malampaya at a more suitable time for the country that would eliminate the need for giving the president emergency powers to fill a projected reserves deficit? The question did not receive a satisfactory answer, though DOE Secretary Jericho Petilla did make a contorted effort to explain. Shell’s presence at the hearings could have given lawmakers a chance to come to the root of the problem, but for some reason the request made by the legislators for the DOE to have Shell present at the Nov 18 hearing was not acted upon. They then voted without having heard a word from what one congressman characterized as the invisible but most critical actor in the whole affair.

A triumvirate of foreign players

Shell is not the only transnational giant whose behavior has had a negative bearing on our energy security. Indonesian-owned Meralco will be at the center of the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) that will provide the substitute generating capacity withdrawn from the grid during should the House grant the president emergency powers. Under ILP, enterprises that have their own generating sets will voluntarily withdraw from the grid so as to allow other consumers access to power that would otherwise go to them. Since it distributes some 70 per cent of electricity in Luzon, it is unavoidable that Meralco, one of the most abusive monopolies in the country, will be a key player and thus be one of the recipients of the massive government subsidy for private sector participants that the proposed law would authorize to put the ILP system in place.

To Shell and Meralco as foreign players with a negative impact on our power system, one must add the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), which operates the National Transmission Corporation that monopolizes the transmission of electric power throughout the archipelago. NGCP is a private entity that is controlled by a Chinese state firm, the State Grid Corporation of China. During the hearings, conflict between the DOE and the NGCP broke out in the open when the DOE complained about the lack of accurate data on power capacity from NGCP.

The secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier complained about the very slow transfer of technology from Chinese operators to Filipino technicians in the system operator. Most important is the question: with our country having serious territorial dispute with the People’s Republic of China in the West Philippine Sea, is it acceptable from the perspective of national security that our transmission grid is in the hands of a Chinese state corporation that responds primarily to the interests of the Chinese state?

This possibility might presently be remote, but one cannot discount a scenario wherein on orders from Beijing, NGCP could literally bring the country to its knees owing to its monopoly over power transmission.

The real challenge

The debate over the granting of emergency powers to the president has not only exposed the unhealthy impact of foreign entities on our energy security; it has also revealed the vastly diminished role of the government in managing the national energy system.

Planning has fallen by the wayside, with the government now reliant on individual corporate players’ plans, based on profitability, to introduce new generating capacity to meet rising national demand. Secretary Petilla admitted as much when he said the ability to meet rising demand was dependent on private players’ promises on when their new units would go online. Indeed, the government’s ability to forecast demand is now largely dependent on data provided by private sector players.

What we are experiencing is the fiasco brought about by the indiscriminate grant to the private sector of most of the power to manage and operate the country’s energy system by Epira. Epira is a domestic monument to the illusions of privatization that were shredded by the global economic crisis that began in 2008.

Instead of more efficiency, lower prices, and more competition, Epira has delivered higher prices, oligopoly, and a less efficient system.

Replacing or fundamentally amending the dysfunctional Epira is what Congress should be doing, not addressing an artificial crisis created by a foreign transnational. Unfortunately, the likely result of what is now the inevitable granting of emergency powers to the president will be to delay even more addressing the central challenge to meeting our energy security. I am willing to bet that despite much populist rhetoric from members of Congress, the 16th Congress will not tackle Epira reform.

*Walden Bello represents Akbayan in the House of Representatives, where he is a member of the Committee on Energy. source

APEC targets doubling of renewable energy

Manila Bulletin
November 22, 2014

Member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)—the world’s largest producers and consumers of energy—are advancing new measures to double the share of renewable energy in the region within 15 years to keep pace with rising demand and ease the environmental impact of economic development across the Asia-Pacific.

Actions ranging from technical cooperation to facilitate solar photovoltaic rooftop installation to support for low carbon heating system development and renewable energy grid integration were taken forward during a just concluded week-long assembly of APEC energy officials in Port Moresby, on the heels of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and subsequent bilateral meeting between China and the United States that announced their landmark emissions deal.

apec logo“Economic development and increasing consumption in emerging Asia-Pacific markets will intensify pressure on global energy supplies through the coming decades, even as large, newly accessible reserves come online,” said Nixon Duban, Petroleum and Energy Minister of Papua New Guinea, which began exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) from a new $19-billion Exxon Mobile project earlier this year.

“The only way we are going to satisfy demand needed to keep our diverse economies moving is by improving the development and use of LNG and conventional fossil fuels while taking further steps to diversify the region’s energy mix,” Duban explained. “All of us in APEC want to see renewables play a larger role in production and consumption in the region and we are working closely to address cost and technical bandwidth issues to help make this happen.”

As APEC economies implement their ground-breaking commitment to reduce tariffs on 54 “environmental goods” to 5% or less by the end of 2015, improving the accessibility of products such as solar panels and wind turbines, emphasis is turning to the fostering of international standards and best practices that are vital to the mainstream application of renewable technologies. A new gap assessment paper is also being prepared.

The APEC Low Carbon Model Town initiative, which promotes low carbon urban design based on real-world feasibility testing, is being expanded in-line with these efforts. Renewable energy-powered buildings and community energy management systems that support solar energy and electric vehicle use are among the proposed measures for adoption in San Borja, Peru, a new participant in the initiative in 2014, which could help to cut its emissions by up to 28 per cent within seven years.

APEC economies this week confirmed Bintung City, in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, as the fifth APEC Low Carbon Model Town whose ranks also include Yujiapu on the outskirts of Tianjin, China; Samui Island, Thailand; and Da Nang, Vietnam. The initiative was launched by APEC in 2010.

“Renewables still account for a modest proportion of energy supplies across the APEC region but there is opportunity for growth,” said Phyllis Yoshida, lead shepherd of the APEC Energy Working Group. “Technological advancements are making renewables more economically viable and increasing the incentives for governments to put in place policies that remove barriers to, and speed up the employment of, these clean, sustainable energy resources.”

Renewables constitute about 10% of energy supplies across APEC economies. In September in Beijing, the region’s Energy Ministers committed to doubling this amount by 2030, from 2010 levels. Definitional issues related to this goal, bearing in mind different environment situations and concerns about the employment of certain kinds of renewable energy, are further challenges being addressed.

A definition for the doubling was adopted this week that includes renewable energy generated by large hydroelectric plants, which APEC economies are collaborating on to make sure is sustainable, but does not include wood fuels, agricultural by-products and dung known as “traditional biomass.” Methodology for measuring progress towards this goal is still being clarified. Monitoring approaches are also being explored.

“We are working to make renewables a cornerstone of energy development and taking on board new policy innovations to move this process forward,” concluded Yoshida, who also serves as United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy. “This isn’t just pie in the sky kind of stuff we’re dealing with but real, concrete steps to boost renewable energy’s contribution to powering economic growth and in ways that reduce emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change.”

Collectively, APEC economies account for 55% of global energy production and 60% of total energy consumption.

To watch video on APEC low-carbon model towns, please click here.

BacMan geothermal facility now completely operational

By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 22, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - All three units of the Bacon-Manito (BacMan) geothermal plant in Albay are now fully operational after more than a year of intermittent operations due to problematic test results and maintenance shutdowns.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Lopez-owned BacMan owner Energy Development Corp. (EDC), said with all units now operational, “the facility is producing a gross output of approximately 130 megawatts.”

Claims filed against the contractors of the rehabilitation of the facility have also been settled after EDC filed an arbitration case before the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

EDC said it would discontinue the arbitration following the settlement of the claims.

“BacMan Geothermal Inc. (BGI) and EDC are pleased to announce that, as of today’s date, all claims under arbitration have now been settled with the contractor on terms satisfactory to BGI and EDC, and that the arbitration will be discontinued as a result. EDC looks forward to pursuing new opportunities with the Siemens group, and strengthening the commercial relationship between the two companies,” EDC said.

BGI is a subsidiary of EDC in charge of the BacMan plant.

On Nov. 28 last year, BGI commenced an arbitration administered by the International Court of arbitration in relation to its dispute with TurboCare Inc., now known as EthosEnergy TC Inc., and Siemens Inc., the contractors for the project.

BGI tapped the contractors in 2010 to carry out the rehabilitation of the BacMan Units 1 to 3 but disputes arose in relation to the carrying out the rehabilitation.

“The permanent fixes have now been completed on both BacMan Unit 2 and Unit 3, whilst BacMan Unit 1 will continue to operate with its interim solution until Dec. 27, 2014 when it will then be shut down to install the new steam turbine rotor from Toshiba. It is planned that BacMan Unit 1 will be returned to service by March 20, 2015,” EDC said.

In May 2010, EDC acquired the BacMan plant from the government with a winning bid of $28.25 million in an auction conducted by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), the agency tasked to handle the privatization of state-owned National Power Corp. (Napocor). source

Friday, November 21, 2014

EDC ends arbitration over BacMan plant

Business World Online
Posted on November 21, 2014 09:24:00 PM

A SUBSIDIARY of Energy Development Corp. (EDC) has settled its dispute with the contractor of its Bacon-Manito (BacMan) geothermal power plant, ending an almost one-year old arbitration proceedings, the parent company said.

In a disclosure on Friday, EDC said BacMan Geothermal, Inc. (BGI) has agreed to terminate the arbitration it sought against TurboCare, Inc. and Siemens, Inc. -- the contractor of its power plant in Bicol region.

The Lopez-led company commenced the arbitration before the International Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 28, 2013 after the contractor failed to carry out the rehabilitation works for the BacMan facility.

“BGI and EDC are pleased to announce that, as of today’s date, all claims under the arbitration have now been settled with the Contractor on terms satisfactory to BGI and EDC, and that the Arbitration will be discontinued as a result,” the disclosure read.

“EDC looks forward to pursuing new opportunities with the Siemens group, and strengthening the commercial relationship between the two companies,” it added.

EDC acquired the BacMan power facility in May 2010 after submitting the highest bid of $28.25 million in an auction conducted by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.

In December 2010, the company started rehabilitation of the facility, which has been generating just 3% of its full capacity.

The asset -- which straddles Bacon, Sorsogon and Manito, Albay -- consists of two 55-MW units and one 20-MW unit.

“As of today’s date all Units at BacMan are operational and the facility is producing a gross output of approximately 130MW,” EDC said in its disclosure on Friday.

But it said that one of the two 55-MW units will be temporarily shut down by December for the installation of a new turbine rotor, and will be again online on March 20, 2015.

EDC is the largest producer of geothermal energy in the Philippines. It operates 12 power facilities in five geothermal service contract areas in the country.

The company, through First Gen Hydro Power Corp., also operates the 132-MW Pantabangan-Masiway hydro power plant in Nueva Ecija.

Shares of EDC shed one centavo or 0.12% to end at P8.15 apiece on Friday. -- Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano source

DOE unsure about using Malampaya fund for ILP

Manila Times
November 21, 2014 8:38 pm

The Department of Energy (DOE) on Friday expressed apprehensions
about using the Malampaya fund to subsidize the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), one of the measures the government is eyeing to avert an expected power shortage next year.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the Malampaya fund could only be tapped to subsidize the ILP if this is mandated by Congress through Joint Resolution 21, which seesk to give President Benigno Aquino 3rd special powers to address the looming power shortage.
But even if Congress were to authorize the use of the Malampaya fund for the ILP, he said it would still be vulnerable to a legal challenge.
The Malampaya fund comprises the royalties from the Malampaya natural gas fields off Palawan.
“I’m open to it, but unless it is stated in the resolution, then it will be subject to challenge in the interpretation of Presidential Decree 910,” Petilla told The Manila Times.
Presidential Decree 910 created the Malampaya Special Fund to finance energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects of the government and “for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President.”
The House Energy Committee on Tuesday approved Joint Resolution 21. The measure is scheduled to be submitted to the plenary next week for second reading.
The joint resolution mandates the establishment of additional generating capacity through the ILP, a mechanism intended to mitigate the looming power shortage next summer.
Under the program, companies enrolled in the ILP will run their own generator sets (gensets) when the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines expects electricity supply to fall short of demand.
The government will reimburse the ILP participants for voluntarily deloading from the grid and using their gensets.
Petilla estimates that P450 million will be needed to fully subsidize the use of gensets by private companies enrolled in the ILP, although the actual amount may be higher or lower depending on the severity of outages in the Luzon grid next year.
He said ILP participants will be reimbursed for the cost of fuel, operations and maintenance for running their gensets.
The energy chief based the amount on a formula drawn up by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and data on forced outages in 2014.
But he noted that the joint resolution does not stipulate how the ILP will be funded.
Because of this, Petilla said they still have to discuss with the Department of Budget and Management where to source the funds for the ILP.
He also said that it is likely that the DOE or the Transmission Commission (Transco) will handle the reimbursement for the ILP participants.
The DOE expects to make available some 800 megawatts of power from the ILP to address a projected 1,004 MW shortage next year.
But the DOE earlier clarified that the ILP will only be part of the answer to the looming energy shortage and does not guarantee zero brownouts. source

NGCP completes new switchyard in Laoag

Manila Times
November 21, 2014 8:36 pm

POWER grid operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) has completed its new switchyard in Laoag Substation, Barit, Laoag City in Ilocos Norte Province.
Situated on a 3.5-hectare lot, the substation has a new 230-kilovolt (kV) switchyard, two 300- megavolt ampere (MVA) transformer, power circuit breakers, and associated power equipment.
It is part of NGCP’s San Esteban-Laoag 230-kV Transmission Project 2.
The project involves the construction of 210 circuit-kilometers of transmission lines from San Esteban to Laoag, and the expansion and upgrade of two major substations, namely San Esteban Substation in Ilocos Sur and Laoag Substation in Ilocos Norte.
The double-circuit line from San Esteban to Laoag Substation will transmit power generated from the wind farms in Ilocos Norte to the Luzon grid.
It will also strengthen the transmission corridor in the Ilocos area, and comply with the N-1 contingency criterion required under the Philippine Grid Code.
Earlier this year, NGCP president and chief executive officer Henry Sy Jr. visited the Laoag Substation to switch on a 300-MVA transformer that is also part of the project.
The Laoag Substation is NGCP’s northernmost facility that transmits electricity generated from new renewable energy projects, such as the Burgos Wind Project of Energy Development Corp. and North Luzon Renewable Energy Corp.
“NGCP recognizes the importance of the Laoag substation as the looping point of the transmission corridor in North Luzon. We will do everything possible to strengthen our facilities here and improve the reliability of the entire Luzon grid for the benefit of all our power customers,” said Sy.
NGCP is a privately-owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s power grid. It transmits high-voltage electricity through “power superhighways” that include the interconnected system of transmission lines, towers, substations, and related assets.
The consortium, which holds a 25-year concession contract to operate the country’s power transmission network, is comprised of Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. led by Henry Sy, Jr., Calaca High Power Corp. led by Robert Coyiuto, Jr., and the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) as technical partner.
NGCP’s concession is for the operation and maintenance of the power transmission facilities. The Philippine government still wholly owns these assets.

GenSan chamber sees new 20-MW plant normalizing business operations

Business World Online
Posted on November 21, 2014 07:35:00 PM

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- The business community here welcomed the completion of a 20-megawatt bunker diesel-fired power plant, which was inaugurated last Thursday, saying that the additional capacity will help curb power disruptions of up to eight hours daily during the dry months.

Raul Josefino F. Miguel, president of the General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc., said the additional power supply will help normalize business operations.

“We are now assured in our business operations, and it it also a relief as well to the residents because brownouts will become rare in the city,” Mr. Miguel said.

Peakpower Soccsargen, Inc. (PSI) inaugurated on Nov. 20 its power plant built at a cost of P1 billion.

PSI is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Peakpower Energy Inc., a joint venture of A Brown Company Inc. (ABCI), Enterprise Holdings Corp, WorldPower Alliance Ltd and Power Mavens Holdings Ltd.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, who was present at the launching ceremony, lauded the company for responding to the need of the city, whose major product is tuna and where many canneries are located.

Mr. Petilla also cited the partnership between PSI and the South Cotabato Electric Cooperative 2 (Socoteco 2), the electricity distribution firm in the city, as a “model in narrowing supply shortfall in a locality,” noting that it will be the first power project under a local build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme.

PSI will supply the plant’s output to Socoteco 2 for 15 years, after which ownership and management of the facility will be turned over to the cooperative.

“I hope we’ll have more of this initiative since this is what we need for Mindanao,” Mr. Petilla said.

The power plant, completed ahead of its January 2015 target date, has yet to go online as PSI is still awaiting clearance from the Energy Regulatory Commission.

“We are expecting the clearance to go out very soon...[Once online], the people of General Santos will have, not really zero, but reduced brownouts this Christmas season,” said PSI President Roel Z. Castro.

Socoteco 2 President Elenito C. Senit, for his part, lauded PSI for investing in the city.

“This is a dream come true for Socoteco 2,” said, Mr. Senit, adding, “We hope you (PSI) will transfer the power plant to us still in A-1 condition.” -- Romer S. Sarmiento source

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Windfarm inaugurated to help avert power crisis

Sunstar Davao
Thursday, November 20, 2014

WITH the specter of blackouts to hit Luzon grid customers, Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. expects the inauguration of the 81-megawatt Caparispisan windfarm in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte to contribute toward easing the expected backlog of electricity come summer of 2015.

Together with his sister, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, Pagudpud Mayor Marlon Sales and Ayala executives, the senator led fellow Filipinos in inauguration rites in the coastal town of Barangay Caparispisan, located 72 kilometers from the Provincial Capitol of Laoag City.

With just a little over 625 residents, this barangay is best known for its white sandy beaches located in the first district of Pagudpud town.

Known all over the world as the "Boracay of the North," Pagudpud is home to about 22,000 Filipinos in Ilocos Norte and is about 560 kilometers away from Manila.

Marcos said this project, which taps wind as an energy source, is not just environmentally-sound but a cost-effective way of helping ease the enormous burden the Philippines faces in its power requirements as an emerging economy.

The 81-Caparispisan Wind Energy project is a joint venture established in July by Ayala's energy investment arm, AC Energy Holdings Incorporated, the Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure and the UPC Philippines Wind Holdco.

The Northern Luzon Renewable Energy Corporation (NLREC) is tasked with developing wind power projects in the Ilocos region, specifically Ilocos Norte. It broke ground last September 2013.

The inauguration came after the House committee on energy approved the granting of the emergency powers to the President where he will have the authority to provide for the establishment of additional power generating capacity to address the energy crisis.

Energy Secretary Carlos Petilla was quoted several times in the media warning of a possible two to three hours rotating brownouts in the summer of 2015 if government fails to address a possible 200 megawatt shortage in electricity.

With Caparispisan inaugurated and soon to provide clean power online, and with the expected opening of other wind farm projects in the future in Ilocos Senator Marcos Jr. said that even without the grant of emergency powers to the president, the expected output to be generated by these windfarm projects would contribute greatly towards improving the power situation in Luzon, at least.

"The wind plants found only in my home province would help avert the looming power crisis by providing clean renewable wind resources to the country for power generation, thus addressing the soaring power consumption," Marcos said. source

Mirae applies to link Ilocos solar plant to grid

Business World Online
Posted on November 20, 2014 09:44:00 PM

MIRAE Asia Energy Corp. has sought regulatory approval to invest P63.72 million to link its 20-megawatt (MW) solar plant in Ilocos Norte to the Luzon grid.
In a notice released recently, the Energy Regulatory Commission said Mirae Energy asked for its authorization to develop, own and operate a transmission line for the new power project that will start operations next year.

“The construction of the transmission line is a pre-requisite for the testing and commission, and ultimately, its commercial operation,” the notice read.

The 20-MW facility in the municipality of Currimao is slated for a Feb. 28 completion. Hence, the developer wants to complete the transmission line by January 2015.

“Given the immediate need for additional capacity by 2015, the completion of the project... is critical to ensure that additional capacity will be available to Luzon grid in a timely manner,” the notice added.

The regulatory approval will also pave the way for the project’s application under the feed-in tariff, which means the generated by the plant will be sold at a rate of P9.68 per kilowatt-hour for a period of 20 years. -- Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano source

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Peakpower GenSan plant starts operations

Business World Online
Posted on November 19, 2014 09:53:00 PM

A SUBSIDIARY of Peakpower Energy, Inc. has started commercial operations at its 20.9-megawatt (MW) bunker-fired power plant yesterday, 15 months after it broke ground for the project located in General Santos City.

In a statement yesterday, the parent company announced the Peakpower Soccsargen, Inc.’s (PSI) inauguration of the project in Barangay Apopong.

The P1.9-billion facility will supply the peaking power requirements of the South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SOCOTECO II) under a 15-year deal.

SOCOTECO II’s franchise area covers the municipalities of Glan, Malapatan, Alabel, Makungon, Kiamba, Maasim and Maitum in Sarangani; the municipalities of Polomolok and Tupi in South Cotabato; as well as General Santos City.

In the same statement, Peakpower Chairman Walter Brown said that the commercial launch of the project was very timely.

“It is the cooperative spirit of the people of General Santos and the stakeholders of Peakpower that facilitated the completion of this project,” Mr. Brown said.

The generating capacity coming from the power plant is seen sparing SOCOTECO II from power interruptions due to supply deficiencies. -- Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano source

Monday, November 17, 2014

New plant eyed to ease power crunch

Riza T. Olchondra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
2:39 AM | Monday, November 17th, 2014

Japanese conglomerate Marubeni Corp., which is expanding its Philippine portfolio, has offered to build a new gas-fired power plant to ease electricity outage concerns in 2015.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla said Marubeni proposed to put up 54 megawatts (MW) of initial capacity by next summer “at no cost to the government” if it could get a good price for the banked gas that the state wanted to monetize.

“They said they can put up as much as 200 MW,” Petilla said. Initial talks have not yet led to firm commitments, Petilla noted, but Marubeni was considering building the facility beside the 1,200-MW Ilijan gas-fired power plant that it helped build (under a Japanese-Korean consortium) in Batangas.

Banked gas from Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) and Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (Spex), which operates the Malampaya gas platform, may be auctioned as early as next month or January 2015. The total volume of banked gas may be able to run a 400-MW power plant until 2024, according to DOE data.

However, Petilla said several hurdles had to be addressed. One constraint is that PNOC’s share of the banked gas must be auctioned under current rules, which means the DOE may have to refer Marubeni to Spex for its extra gas.

Another is that the banked gas can only be extracted by end-2015 after pressure in the Malampaya gas wells have normalized from expansion work (through a new platform installation) in March 2015. Spex managing director Sebastian Quiniones said in an interview that the banked gas might be awarded in early 2015 but physically delivered only by 2016.

A third constraint, Petilla said, was whether Marubeni would willingly “take a hit” financially in the initial operating stage by using more expensive diesel fuel until the banked gas has become available.

Marubeni, though Marubeni Philippines Corp., has various interests in the Philippines ranging from general merchandise to power. Its IPP portfolio in the Philippines makes up more than 10 percent of its global footprint in the power sector. Presently, Marubeni and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), through joint venture firm TeaM Energy Corp., are building a third unit of the Pagbilao coal-fired power plant in Quezon province in partnership with Aboitiz Power Corp. The generation capacity is 388 MW and commercial operation is scheduled to start in November 2017.

In its website, Marubeni Philippines said its focus was now on the construction of new merchant plants and was keen in expansion projects of existing power plants and participation in the growing gas industry and gas power development in the near future.

The price of the banked gas might be benchmarked with the price of Malampaya gas, which is sold to Ilijan and other gas-fired power plants, Petilla said. Scouring for short-term power supply, Petilla said he would prefer that the banked gas be sold through bidding to new power plants opened by the summer of 2015. Besides pushing for new power plants, the DOE has been helping Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) sign up big energy users with generators to help prevent power outages in Metro Manila, which contributes roughly a third of the Philippines’ economic output.

In December 1997, the state-owned National Power Corp. (Napocor) contracted and paid for minimum allocations of natural gas from Malampaya for the Ilijan power plant. However, lower-than-projected demand for electricity in the wake of the Asian financial crisis (1997-1998) and delays in power transmission projects left the stockpiled gas unused.

Due to the recent deregulation of the energy sector, ownership of the gas inventory has changed hands from Napocor to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (a state firm tasked to privatize Napocor’s assets) and to the DOE. source

Special powers for Noy within the month

By Iris Gonzales, Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 17, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Congress aims to give President Aquino special powers within the month to resolve a looming electricity shortage next year.

House of Representatives committee on energy chairman Reynaldo Umali said over the weekend that the Senate and House are working together to deliver the emergency powers to Aquino as soon as possible.

“Since the President wants to fast-track the solution, we need to pass this within November,” he said.

The Oriental Mindoro lawmaker said Senate energy committee chairman Sergio Osmeña III is willing to support the joint resolution.

“We are running out of time,” he said. “There are tax perks, such as VAT (value added tax)-exemption, that need to be granted to Interruptible Load Program (ILP) participants that would require legislation. But we do not have time for that anymore. That is the reason why the President should be granted special powers.”

Last Friday, the House committee on energy filed the joint resolution granting Aquino special powers to tap additional capacity for the summer of 2015.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is the resolution’s principal author.

Joint Resolution 21 authorizes Aquino to provide for the establishment of additional power-generating capacity as mandated by Republic Act 9136, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), to effectively address the projected shortage of the supply of electricity in the Luzon grid from March to July 2015.

“Additional generating capacity shall be sourced from the Interruptible Load Program, fast-tracking of committed projects, and plants for interconnection and rehabilitation,” read the resolution.

The ILP is a program where big power users will be asked to run their own generators when demand is high instead of getting their supply from the Luzon grid.

Electricity that would not be taken from the grid would be available to households and other users, sparing them from rotating blackouts.

The cost of running the generators of big power users would be exempted from value-added tax.

Big power users with their self-generating capacities have until Dec. 31 to sign up for the program. Those failing to sign up on or before the deadline would not be compensated even if they run their own generators during the summer months.

Umali said the ILP’s success would largely depend on the cooperation of malls, factories and other private establishments in running their own generators.

“Big power users will be asked to use their own power for two to three hours for five days a week to ease demand from the grid,” he said.

Companies participating in the ILP would be compensated 7.5 centavos per kilowatt-hour, he added.

The resolution is based on the premise that the Luzon grid would have a maximum projected shortage of 1,004 megawatts or 600 MW of the required dispatchable reserves and 404 MW of required contingency reserves.

Dispatchable reserves are offline plants that can be turned on when power supply falls while the contingency reserve is equivalent to the highest online power plant.

The resolution mandates the Department of Energy (DOE) to formulate the implementing rules within 30 days upon its approval.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the DOE could immediately craft the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) upon approval of the resolution.

“That won’t take a long time,” he said. “We can work on the IRR fast. We can even start drafting the rules already.”

However, the DOE would have to wait for the final wording of the resolution, he added.

El Niño

Meanwhile, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano lll said yesterday the early onset of the El Niño will compel heavy power users like shopping malls, office buildings and industrial plants with power-generating capacity to join the ILP to prevent power outages next year.

“The El Niño threat aggravates the projected power supply situation in the country next year caused by thin power reserves that could lead to power outages,” he said.

Albano, one of the minority bloc’s representatives in the House energy committee, made the statement after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) announced that El Niño conditions could be felt as early as within the next two months and could last until May 2015.

However, weather agencies in the Asia-Pacific region expect the extended dry season event to weaken, as warm Pacific waters are calming down, PAGASA added.

PAGASA said hot conditions would not be as severe as earlier forecast.

Water in several dams in Luzon used both for power generation and irrigation is at normal levels, PAGASA added.

Albano said the government must be prepared for whatever impact El Niño would have on power supply.

“I strongly urge the private sector to join hands with the government and participate in the ILP program to help achieve the additional generating capacity needed to avert the projected power supply shortage in the summer of 2015,” he said.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers Association Rep. Arnel Ty said the standby generating capacity of 3,000 megawatts of private companies could be considered the country’s strategic energy reserves.

“We are looking at ILP as an enduring mechanism that could serve as the people’s electricity supplier of last resort during shortages caused by calamities such as earthquakes and typhoons,” he said.

“Although ILP is voluntary in nature, Congress and the Energy Regulatory Commission may still find ways to establish the program as a stable, secondary reserve mechanism. If necessary, we may provide some financial incentives to participants,” Ty added.

He said Aboitiz Power pioneered ILP in the country.

“Aboitiz Power’s distribution utility in Cebu, the Visayan Electric Co. (VECO), introduced ILP in 2009, when the Visayas reeled from brownouts due to the failure of power producers to keep up with the surge in demand,” he said.

Ty said VECO’s ILP covered 43 percent of supply shortfall in December 2013, when the Visayas suffered blackouts due to Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Although the DOE is insisting that a power shortage would occur in Luzon next year, data from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) show otherwise, he added.

Quoting a report from NGCP, Ty said electricity supply in Luzon as of last month stood at 9,003 MW.

Peak demand was 6,149 MW or a reserve of 2,854 MW, he added.

Supply in the Visayas was reported at 1,415 MW against peak demand of 1,374 MW, for a reserve of 41 MW.

Mindanao had 1,213 MW in available supply, versus peak demand of 1,285 MW, or a shortfall of 72 MW.

Gas plant

Petilla said Marubeni Corp., Japan’s fifth largest sogo shosha or trading company, has offered to put up a 200-megawatt natural gas plant to help the Philippines augment its critical supply situation next summer.

“Marubeni wants to put up a merchant plant at no cost to the government but on condition that they be given a good price for the gas because they will have to pipe it,” he said.

However, the Japanese integrated business giant wants assurance that it would be able to secure the government’s banked gas at a good price.

The banked gas is unused natural gas owned by the government and is stored at the Malampaya natural gas field in offshore Palawan.

Petilla said the government could only offer the 150 MW to 200 MW banked gas owned by the government through the Philippine National Oil Co. Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC) through a competitive bidding.

“I can’t give them the banked gas as it has to be bid out,” he said. “Otherwise I might go to jail for it.”

Marubeni could offer to buy the banked gas of Shell Philippines Exploration B.V., operator of the Malampaya gas facility, also estimated at 150 MW to 200 MW, Petilla said.

Marubeni Corp. and Tokyo Electric Power Corp. of Japan are partners in TeaM Energy Philippines, the joint venture that operates the 735-MW Pagbilao coal plant in Quezon and the 1,218 MW Sual coal plant in Pangasi-nan. source

P3-B submarine cable to energize Mindoro

Manila Standard Today
By Robert A. Evora | Nov. 17, 2014 at 12:01am

CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro—The Department of Energy and officials here have agreed to support the proposal of a manpower company to energize Mindoro through a P3-billion submarine cable to fill the growing demands for electricity on this island.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said his department “welcomes new players in the industry” when informed that DMCI Power Corp. had expressed interest in providing electricity through the use of a submarine cable from a coal-fired power plant on Semirara Island in Antique.

In a letter to Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr. that was hand-carried by former Rep. Rodolfo Valencia, national chairman of the Philippine Real Estate Practitioners, DMCI president Nestor Dadivas said his company could install “a 69-kilovolt submarine cable that could carry 50 megawatts of electricity within 18 months after the issuance of a notice to proceed.”

Umali said there was no problem with DMCI’s proposal as long as the coal-fired power plant was not based in the province.

“If it’s an additional power source we welcome it,” second district Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House energy committee, said.

Valencia said the proposal of DMCI Power Corp. to connect Mindoro to a 13-kilometer submarine cable was “not only environment-friendly but doable since it could only be installed in 18 to 20 months with no cost to the province.”

He said that out of the plant’s rated generation capacity of 50 megawatts, DMCI was willing to share 15 to 20 megawatts of electricity to Oriental Mindoro.

“If there’s a need for more, DMCI could give more power,” Valencia said.

The 50-megawatt coal-fired power plant is already in place on Semirara, where a 13-kilometer submarine cable will be tapped to take electricity to either Bulalacao town in Oriental Mindoro or to San Jose municipality in Occidental Mindoro.

“The high cost of that P3-billion submarine cable that DMCI will spend is nothing compared to the benefits the Mindoro people will get from this power project,” Petilla said.

Dadivas said the high cost of power could be reduced by P3 to P5 per kilowatt hour “without worries over environmental issues.”

Semirara Island, where the Philippines’ largest coal reserves are located, is “capable and eager to produce sufficient, reliable, and continuous capacity that the province can avail of without worries of environmental issues that have been associated, although wrongly, with coal-fired power plants,” Dadivas said. source

Malampaya may save day for emergency power reso

Manila Standard Today
By Christine F. Herrera | Nov. 17, 2014 at 12:01am

THE House of Representatives wants to grant President Benigno Aquino III the authority to use royalty payments from the Malampaya gas field to subsidize the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) to address a foreseen power shortage next year, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales said Sunday.

In an interview over radio dzBB, Gonzalez said Congress would grant the President emergency powers through a joint resolution before it goes on recess Dec. 20, but leave out the original request from the Palace for the authority to negotiate contracts to lease or buy generator sets

Under the ILP, large consumers of electricity such as malls, offices, residential towers and factories will voluntarily disconnect from the grid and run their own generators when the supply of power is low, and receive compensation for running their own machines.

Gonzales, one of the principal authors of the joint resolution, said the Energy Department itself withdrew the proposal for the purchase or rental of power generators, which was expected to cost P6 billion.

“If we go by the ILP, the issue here always is how much the government will shoulder if it has to reimburse the companies for using their power generator sets,” Gonzales said. “Since the ILP is energy-related, the Malampaya fund can be tapped for some sort of subsidy.”

This, he said, would reduce the cost that would be passed on to consumers.

Another senior member of Congress, House Deputy Minority Leader and LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty called for the creation of a permanent National Strategic Power Reserve that would help provide the country a ready supply of additional electricity during disasters.

The strategic reserve would be drawn from the 3,000 megawatts that may be produced by privately held backup generators registered with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

“Although the ILP is voluntary in nature, Congress and the ERC may still find ways to establish the program as a stable, secondary reserve mechanism. If necessary, we may provide some financial incentives to participants,” Ty said.

“As a fixed second reserve mechanism, the ILP will be highly beneficial during catastrophic events, such as when some power plants or transmission lines are damaged due to an earthquake, thus causing a large unforeseen drop in supply,” Ty said.

“We are looking at the ILP as an enduring mechanism that could serve as the people’s electricity supplier of last resort during shortages caused by calamities such as earthquakes and typhoons,” Ty said.

But Ty’s fellow opposition member, House Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, vowed to oppose the granting of emergency powers to the President.

“We hope the draft joint resolution granting President Aquino emergency powers will not be filed because we will certainly oppose it. The Malacanang sponsored emergency power in the joint resolution is very strange, since the DOE admitted during the House Energy Committee hearing last month that there is no lack of supply next year,” Colmenares said.

“The fact that the data in the joint resolution is different from those submitted to the Energy Committee is disturbing since the proposed emergency powers will not only increase electricity rates but will siphon P12 billion of public funds,” Colmenares said.

“We need to guard against wasting public funds which is better spent on social services or typhoon Yolanda victims. While we should find solutions if there is an actual energy crisis, we cannot also allow wasting public funds on a supposed supply shortage which the DOE itself said does not exist. Why should DOE ask for emergency powers if there is no evidence of an emergency? We will oppose the joint resolution which will shift the burden of higher electricity cost to the people” Colmenares said.

He said the joint resolution declares there is an “imminent” shortage but does not explain how it arrived at that conclusion.

“Imminent means the shortage is about to happen and clearly apparent. How can the joint resolution claim that supply shortage is imminent when after seven hearings the Joint Congressional Power Committee could not even decide whether the shortage is 200, 600 or 800 megawatts? Worse, in the latest...hearing yesterday, the DOE and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines cannot even agree on their data and whether there is an actual supply shortage,” he said.

“It is clear from the DOE document ‘Luzon Supply-Demand Outlook’ that the claimed shortage is a result of the maintenance shutdowns scheduled by power plants next year. Power plants will withhold their supply of about 2,340 MW in March, another 2,943 MW in April, about 1,687MW in May, 1,966 MW in June and about 2,205 MW in July next year. The immediate solution, therefore, is for the DOE to investigate whether these scheduled shutdowns are legitimate. It is possible that the supposed supply shortage is also contrived as happened during the Malampaya turnaround last year,” Colmenares said.

According to the Energy Department, Luzon faces a 700-MW shortfall over 16 weeks from March to July 2015, with the risk of brownouts happening one hour per day every week.

The Taipan Place Condominium Association Inc. has just signed up for the ILP, bringing to 30 the large private entities enrolled in the program as of Nov. 14, Ty said.

They are ready to use their backup generators once called upon to do so by the Manila Electric co. or the NGCP, and make an extra 171 MW available to other consumers this summer, Ty added.

“The ILP has been operational in other countries for years. In fact, in some municipalities of America, owners of backup generators with a capacity of 100 kilowatts or more get paid just to have their units available to run during peak summer months. The owners get paid whether they are asked to run their generators or not,” Ty said.

In the Philippines, Ty credited Aboitiz Power Corp. for pioneering the ILP.

“Aboitiz Power’s distribution utility in Cebu, the Visayan Electric Co. (VECO), introduced the ILP in 2009, when the Visayas reeled from brownouts due to the failure of power producers to keep up with the surge in demand,” Ty said.

He said VECO’s ILP was also helpful in December 2013, when the Visayas suffered brownouts due to super typhoon Yolanda. The ILP at the time was able to cover 43 percent of the power supply shortfall, Ty said.

Ty said the proposed strategic reserve would be on top of the so-called operating reserve for the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao grids.

Under normal conditions, the operating reserve is supposed to be equal to the capacity o the largest power plant plus a fraction of peak demand.

The NGCP said Luzon’s system capacity as of Nov. 16 was at 9,003 MW versus peak demand of 6,149 MW and an operating reserve of 2,854 MW.

The Visayas’ capacity stood at 1,415 MW against peak demand of 1,374 MW and an operating reserve of 41 MW.

Mindanao had a capacity of 1,213 MW versus peak demand of 1,285 MW and a negative 72 MW operating reserve.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, however, said power supply could fall lower if hydro-electric plants dry up in an El Niño dry spell.

“The El Niño threat aggravates the projected power supply situation in the country next year caused by thin power reserves that could lead to power outages,” Albano said.

“These are compelling reasons for heavy power users like shopping malls, office buildings and industrial plants with power generating capacity to join the ILP to prevent power outages as outlined by a House Joint Resolution granting President Aquino III emergency powers,” Albano said.

Albano also defended Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, who has been criticized for being “too alarmist.”

“We should cut Secretary Petilla some slack because he was trying to prepare for a worst case scenario in the event that the power reserves we have may not be enough to cover the project power supply shortfall,” Albano said.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, who chairs the House energy committee, said he hopes to pass the joint resolution by November.

“We are running out of time. There are tax perks, such as VAT-exemption, that need to be granted to ILP participants that would require legislation,” he said.

“We are in discussion with Senator (Sergio) Osmena (III), who chairs the Senate energy committee, and he is willing to support the joint resolution,” Umali said.

Umali said only emergency powers will give the President powers to cut through red tape and grant tax relief to private companies joining the ILP.

“We really need the emergency powers for tax relief for the ILP participants,” Umali said. – With Alena Mae Flores source

Reserve power proposed

By MST News | Nov. 17, 2014 at 12:01am

A congressman has called for the creation of a permanent National Strategic Power Reserve that would help provide the country a ready supply of additional electricity during emergencies.

A House Deputy Minority Leader Arnel Ty says the strategic electricity reserve would be drawn from the 3,000 megawatts (MW) that may be produced by privately held backup generators registered with the Energy Regulatory Commission.

“We are looking at the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) as an enduring mechanism that could serve as the people’s electricity supplier of last resort during shortages caused by calamities such as earthquakes and typhoons,” said Ty of LPG-MA party list.

The Philippines ranks third out of 173 countries in terms of vulnerability to natural calamities -- from earthquakes and tropical storms to flashfloods and landslides -- according to the 2013 Risk Index of the 2013 World Disasters Report.

“Although the ILP is voluntary in nature, Congress and the ERC may still find ways to establish the program as a stable, secondary reserve mechanism. If necessary, we may provide some financial incentives to participants,” Ty said.

Under the ILP, participants -- large consumers such as malls, office and residential towers and factories -- may be asked to disconnect from the grid and run their own generators, once the power supply falls short of demand.

The ILP guarantees other consumers -- those without any self-generating capacity -- adequate electricity despite supply deficiencies.

“As a fixed second reserve mechanism, the ILP will be highly beneficial during catastrophic events, such when some power plants or transmission lines are damaged due to an earthquake, thus causing a large unforeseen drop in supply,” Ty said.

Congress is already pushing for the ILP to help address Luzon’s projected power deficit in the summer of 2015.

Luzon faces a 700-MW power shortfall over 16 weeks from March to July 2015, with the risk of brownouts happening one hour per day every week, according to the Department of Energy. source