Monday, August 31, 2015

DOE exec bares 5-year action plan on energy efficiency, RE utilization

Business Mirror
by Philippines News Agency - August 31, 2015

CEBU CITY—The Philippines will begin implementing next year a five-year action plan for energy efficiency and is increasing the use of renewable energy (RE) in a bid to address issues related to climate change.

Energy Undersecretary Donato D. Marcos bared these Philippine initiatives during the opening of the 46th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Energy Efficiency and Conservation (Apec-EGEEC) Meeting held here on Monday.

“I trust that Apec will tackle interventions to mitigate the effects of climate change through energy efficiency and push for an environment friendly and developed economy,” he said.

For its part, Marcos said the Philippines has come up with an Energy Efficiency Road map and its corresponding action plan that it will undertake from 2016 to 2020.

“This road map is envisioned to be the master plan of the Philippines’s Department of Energy in achieving energy efficiency and conservation programs and activities to higher levels and define the role of the government in coming up with a range of measures aimed at improving energy efficiency, driven by legislative orders and decrees targeting energy saving programs,” he noted.

Marcos said the action plan has targeted five energy-intensive sectors, namely: transport, industry, commercial and residential buildings and the cross-sectoral.

Moreover, the energy official said the Philippines is aggressive in the promotion and installation of RE, as it recognizes the importance of addressing energy issues relevant to economic growth and development.

“As a matter of record, we rank second as the largest geothermal producer in the world with 1,868-MW [megawatts] installed capacity as of 2013, or equivalent to 10.78 percent of the total installed capacity of the country,” he stressed.

For its energy efficiency programs, Marcos said the country has generated energy savings of 1.6 million tons of oil equivalent for the same year.

“The Philippines reaffirms its commitment to the Apec’s unified goal of building strong partnerships toward economic development as we are optimistic that with Apec support, our vision of harmonization and connectivity will come to excellent productive realization,” he further said.

The 46th Apec-EGEEC Meeting will discuss various priority areas, including energy efficiency policies and programs, and energy intensity and RE goals. source

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Islamic leaders: Commit to zero emissions

Business Mirror
by Inter Press Service - August 29, 2015
By Kitty Stapp / Inter Press Service

In Photo: People stand along an area of coral near Molokii Island in Hawaii’s Kaneohe Bay. Climate change, an unusually strong El Niño event and a massive “blob” of abnormally warm water are heating up the Pacific Ocean to the point that coral reefs in the waters off Hawaii are beginning to sicken and bleach.

NEW YORK—Following in the footsteps of Pope Francis, who has taken a vocal stance on climate change, Muslim leaders and scholars from 20 countries issued a joint declaration recently, underlining the severity of the problem and urging governments to commit to 100-percent renewable energy or a zero-emissions strategy.

Mohammed Rashid Qabbani , the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, was one of the signers of the Islamic Declaration on Climate.

Mohammed Rashid Qabbani , the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, was one of the signers of the Islamic Declaration on Climate.
Notably, it calls on oil-rich, wealthy Muslim countries to lead the charge in phasing-out fossil fuels “no later than the middle of the century.”

The call to action, which draws on Islamic teachings, was adopted at an International Islamic Climate Change Symposium in Istanbul.

“Our species, though selected to be a caretaker or steward [khalifah] on the earth, has been the cause of such corruption and devastation on it that we are in danger ending life as we know it on our planet,” the Islamic Declaration on Climate statement says. “This current rate of climate change cannot be sustained, and the Earth’s fine equilibrium [mīzān] may soon be lost…We call on all groups to join us in collaboration, cooperation and friendly competition in this endeavor and we welcome the significant contributions taken by other faiths, as we can all be winners in this race.”

The symposium’s goal was to reach “broad unity and ownership from the Islamic community around the declaration.”

Welcoming the declaration, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said, “A clean energy, sustainable future for everyone ultimately rests on a fundamental shift in the understanding of how we value the environment and each other.

“Islam’s teachings, which emphasize the duty of humans as stewards of the Earth and the teacher’s role as an appointed guide to correct behavior, provide guidance to take the right action on climate change.”

Supporters of the Islamic Declaration included the grand muftis of Uganda and Lebanon and government representatives from Turkey and Morocco.

The UNFCCC notes that religious leaders of all faiths have been stepping up the pressure on governments to drastically cut carbon dioxide emissions and help poorer countries adapt to the challenges of climate change, with a key international climate treaty set to be negotiated in Paris this December. In June Pope Francis released a papal encyclical letter, in which he called on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to join the fight against climate change.

The Church of England’s General Synod recently urged world leaders to agree on a road map to a low carbon future, and is among a number of Christian groups promising to redirect their resources into clean energy.

Hindu leaders will release their own statement later this year, and the Buddhist community plans to step up engagement this year building on a Buddhist Declaration on climate change. Hundreds of rabbis released a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis. The Dalai Lama has also frequently spoken of the need for action on climate change, linking it to the need for reforms to the global-economic system.

Interfaith groups have been cooperating throughout the year. The Vatican convened a Religions for Peace conference in the Vatican in April, and initiatives, such as our Our Voices network, are building coalitions in the run-up to Paris.

Reacting to the Islamic Declaration, the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative Head of Low Carbon Frameworks, Tasneem Essop, said, “The message from the Islamic leaders and scholars boosts the moral aspects of the global-climate debate and marks another significant display of climate leadership by faith-based groups.

“Climate change is no longer just a scientific issue; it is increasingly a moral and ethical one.

It affects the lives, livelihoods and rights of everyone, especially the poor, marginalized and most vulnerable communities.” source

Image Credits: AP/Caleb Jones,

Iligan hydro deal illegal–COA

By: Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
07:20 AM August 29th, 2015

The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) had unlawfully awarded a P438-million contract to rehabilitate a hydroelectric plant in Iligan City which could have helped address the power crisis in Mindanao, the Commission on Audit (COA) said.

In its 2014 audit report released on Friday, the COA assailed Psalm president Emmanuel Ledesma for entering into a negotiated contract with the joint venture of Guangxi Hydroelectric Construction Bureau (GHCB) and ITP Construction Inc. for the “total replacement” of Agus IV hydroelectric power plant without the approval of the Psalm board.

The state auditors said the awarding of the contract violated Section 48.1 of the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 9184, also known as the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Noting this major deficiency, the COA asked the Psalm to cancel the contract and demand the refund of P65 million in advance payment to GHCB.

“(T)he fact that (Psalm) did not secure the approval of the Psalm board…before entering into a negotiated contract with GHCB rendered the contract null and void ab initio, hence, not enforceable,” the COA said.

Worse, it said GHCB had failed to start the project as of Dec. 31, 2014, depriving the public of its intended benefits.

COA said Psalm “had all the reasons to require the refund of the advance payments because the contractor has not started the project nine months after the receipt of the payment.”

The major repair of Agus IV, which is powered by the picturesque Maria Cristina Falls, was requested by the National Power Corp. in 2013 in a bid to restore its full capacity of 50 megawatts.

Since 1971, Agus IV had not been able to operate to its total capacity.

After Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Mindanao Development Authority chair Lou Antonino approved the rehabilitation of the power plant last year, the NPC gave the contract amounting to P496.25 million to an Italian firm being the original manufacturer under the propriety mode of procurement.

But the Psalm board, headed by Purisima, rejected NPC’s decision and issued a resolution on March 6, 2014, allowing Ledesma to enter into a negotiated contract as allowed by law.

A month later, the board decided to nullify the authority it gave to Ledesma and directed the Psalm bids and awards committee (BAC) to conduct a public bidding instead.

In an April 15, 2014, memorandum, Ledesma said the BAC “discounted the urgency of the project and directed the BAC to resort to negotiated procurement…in accordance with the original deadline set by the board.”

This prompted the BAC to issue a resolution awarding the rehabilitation contract to GHCB two weeks later.

“Despite the revocation by the Psalm board of his authority to enter into a negotiation…(Ledesma) directed the BAC to prepare a resolution recommending negotiated procurement under emergency case…and awarded the rehabilitation contract to (GHCB),” the COA said. source

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Australia's coal city backs green future

Australia's city of Newcastle, which claims to be the world's biggest coal export port, says it will pull money out of fossil fuel industries and invest in more sustainable enterprises
Agence France-Presse
Published 4:14 PM, August 26, 2015
Updated 4:14 PM, Aug 26, 2015

COAL CENTRAL. This photo taken on April 25, 2015 shows coal stockpiled at the coal port of Newcastle in Australia's New South Wales state. Greg Wood/Files/AFP

SYDNEY, Australia – Australia's city of Newcastle, which claims to be the world's biggest coal export port, said Wednesday, August 26, it will pull money out of fossil fuel industries and invest in more sustainable enterprises.

Newcastle City Council, which manages a Aus$268 million (US$191 million) investment fund for Australia's seventh largest city, voted late Tuesday, August 25, to move progressively towards "environmentally and socially responsible investments".

"Coal undoubtedly makes up a really significant portion of our local economy, but we're also increasingly becoming an energy hub more broadly," councillor Declan Clausen told Agence France-Presse.

"Coal exports are going to continue... but we'll also be focusing our investment away from really large, new, environmentally damaging resource projects towards things that are more sustainable in line with the changing expectations of the broader community."

Newcastle, 170 kilometers (106 miles) north of Sydney, is one of the biggest councils in Australia to vote to divest from carbon-heavy industries.

"Newcastle's a town in transition," Clausen said, noting that the city was now home to national science agency CSIRO's research centre into low emissions and renewable energy.

The decision came just days after the local government in the national capital Canberra said it would continue to divest its portfolio of high-carbon emitting companies and sectors, while aiming to be 100 percent powered by renewable energy by 2025.

Coal is Australia's second-largest export after iron ore and conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott has repeatedly stressed its importance to the nation's prosperity, saying on one occasion that "coal is good for humanity".

But with its heavy use of coal-fired power and relatively small population of 23 million, Australia is considered one of the world's worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters.

Abbott this month announced plans to reduce Australia's carbon emissions by 26% from 2005 levels by 2030. But he said the commitment to the environment must be balanced against economic growth and jobs.

He has also supported a massive India-backed coal mine project in Queensland state, which environment groups say will exacerbate climate change.

Newcastle's deputy mayor Michael Osborne told Agence France-Presse the divestment would "start happening straight away" and continue as investments are due for renewal, with the shift expected to be completed in about five years.

Activities considered to be environmentally or socially harmful include the production of pollutants, habitat destruction, nuclear power, uranium mining and human rights or labour abuses, the council said.

Industries listed as environmentally or socially productive include resource-efficient business, renewable energy and recycling firms, fair trade and equal opportunity employers.

Osborne said he hoped the council's move would place Australia's big four banks under greater pressure to focus on "ethical investments".

There has been a growing global movement to divest from fossil fuels.

High-profile examples include the Church of England and the Norwegian parliament's move to pull its sovereign wealth fund out of coal. – Glenda Kwek, AFP / source

NGCP upgrades Pampanga, Nueva Vizcaya substations

By Danessa O. Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 26, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the country’s power transmission operator, is upgrading its substations in Pampanga and Nueva Vizcaya to meet the growing requirements of large industries and mining projects in these provinces.

In a statement, NGCP said it will boost the transmission system reliability with the energization of power transformers in Pampanga and Nueva Vizcaya substations.

In Pampanga, the 100-megavolt ampere (MVA) power transformer at Mexico Substation will cater to the steel mills in the province.

The grid operator said this will ensure that future load growth from Pampanga’s fast-growing economy, fueled by the influx of large industries, will be accommodated.

Similarly, the additional 75-MVA transformer at Bayombong Substation in Nueva Vizcaya will cater to the incoming load of the booming mining industry in the area.

The additional capacity from these transformers provide load carrying redundancy, and enables NGCP to comply with the N-1 provision of the Philippine Grid Code.

Under the Philippine Grid Code, N-1 requires back up equipment to prevent outage when other transformers are not available or on scheduled shutdown.

“These upgrades are just some of many improvements NGCP has planned for the country’s transmission network. It is our aim to build the strongest power grid in Asia. Our maintenance and upgrade programs are all in support of our country’s fast-growing economy, hailed by many as the next big thing in the region,” NGCP said.

“Stronger transmission for a stronger nation. This rings true now more than any other time. A robust economy is necessarily built on the foundations of a strong and stable power supply, and we are ready to face that challenge,” it added. source

China, US to talk “clean coal” as industry struggles

Manila Bulletin
by AFP
August 26, 2015

Chinese investors monitor stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Monday, Aug. 24, 2015. Stocks tumbled across Asia on Monday as investors shaken by the sell-off last week on Wall Street unloaded shares in practically every sector. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

BILLINGS, Montana (AP) — U.S. officials and the governors of coal-rich Western states are meeting with Chinese energy officials in a bid to advance so-called clean-coal technologies that have struggled to gain traction.

Tuesday’s conference in Billings takes place near one of the largest coal reserves in the world — the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming.

It comes as the industry has suffered a beating in recent months: Mining companies going bankrupt. Proposals to hike coal royalties and lease payments. And cheap natural gas squeezing out demand for coal.

Those woes are in addition to concerns over coal’s role in climate change.

Clean-coal technologies purport to capture the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

But they’re expensive, and efforts to develop them for commercial use have foundered in the U.S. source

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Semirara, Meralco unit OK supply deal

Manila Standard Today
By Alena Mae S. Flores | Aug. 25, 2015 at 11:30pm

South Luzon Power Generation Corp., a wholly-owned unit of Semirara Mining and Power Corp., signed a power supply agreement with Manila Electric Co.’s local retail electricity supplier.

Semirara disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange Tuesday South Luzon under the agreement would supply Meralco with a total capacity of 120 megawatts.

The Consunji Group acquired the 600-MW Calaca coal-fired power plant from the government in 2009. The plants have since undergone rehabilitation to ensure reliable delivery of power supply.

South Luzon, the project company, meanwhile, is pursuing the expansion of the Calaca power plant by another 300 MW set for commercial operations this year.

Semirara said the supply deal between Southwest Luzon and the Meralco unit covered a two-year period from March 26, 2016 to Dec. 25, 2018 and could be extended up to four years.

Meralco, the country’s biggest power distributor, has over five million customers in its franchise area. The bulk of its supply comes from power supply agreements and independent producers.

Semirara is also pursuing another 350-MW expansion in Calaca, Batangas, which is estimated to cost P22 billion and on top of the 300-MW project now under construction.

Semirara chairman and chief executive Isidro Consunji earlier said the company was in talks with a local company for a possible joint venture in the new 350-MW coal project.

Consunji said with a more reliable power generation capacity from the existing and newly-completed plants, Semirara was facing better financial prospects this year.

He earlier said the company’s net income might reach between P9 billion and P10 billion this year.

Consunji said P1 billion will come from the operations of the 300-MW coal plant expansion in Calaca, Batangas.

“We are optimistic about our prospects for 2015 and onwards with the 2x300 MW in full operation and the coming on-stream of our 2x150 MW CFB power plants starting second quarter of 2015,” Consunji said.

He said the company anticipated top-line growth to come in track in 2015 with the normalization of the Sem-Calaca units 1 and 2 and the completion of the South Luzon power plants.

“This year the 2x150 MW will start contributing revenue from the sale of power from new power supply agreements,” he said. source

Obama makes case for renewable energy

Manila Bulletin
by AFP
August 25, 2015 (updated)

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 24: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the keynote address at the National Clean Energy Summit 8.0 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on August 24, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Political and economic leaders are attending the summit to discuss a domestic policy agenda to advance alternative energy for the country's future. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

US President Barack Obama made a full-throated defense of renewable energy Monday, hitting coal-championing critics as free market hypocrites.

With one eye on a looming battle over power plant emissions limits, Obama took on fossil fuel supporters during a speech in the parched desert oasis of Las Vegas.

Framing climate change as “one of the most important issues not just of our time, but of any time,” Obama said renewable energy offered a viable solution.

He made the economic case for developing green industries that provide “a steady stream of well paying jobs.”

“The solar industry now employs twice as many Americans as mining coal,” he claimed.

His comments come after the White House backed the first national emissions limits for power plants. That has energy firms and lawmakers in coal-rich states such as Kentucky lobbying heavily against the proposals.

He accused coal champions as being fair-weather capitalists, perhaps a subtle dig at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“We see the trend lines, we see where technology is taking us, we see where consumers want to go,” Obama said.

“That, let’s be honest, has some big fossil fuel interests pretty nervous. To the point where they are trying to fight renewable energy.”

“It’s one thing if you are insistent on being free market, it’s another thing if you’re free market until it’s solar that’s working and people want to buy it.”

Solar power currently makes up a fraction of America’s energy mix and has enjoyed government grants and subsidies to get up and running.

But Obama also said it was an example of American ingenuity.

“We can do good and do well at the same time,” he said. source

Meralco to source power from Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corp.

Business Mirror
by Lenie Lectura - August 25, 2015

THE Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will partly source its power requirements from a subsidiary of Semirara Mining and Power Corp.

Semirara, the coal mining arm of Consunji-led DMCI, said on Tuesday that its wholly owned subsidiary, Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corp. (SLPGC), has signed a power-supply agreement with the country’s largest utility firm. Under the agreement, Meralco will source a total of 120 megawatts (MW) of power from SLPGC. The deal will take effect on March 26, 2016.

“We disclosed that the company’s and Manila Electric Co.’s Local RES segment have signed a power-supply agreement with a term until December 25, 2018, which may be extended up to four years upon mutual agreement of the parties,” Semirara told the stock exchange.

Last week DMCI President Isidro Consunji said his company signed a power deal with Meralco. He gave no further details then.

Semirara makes up 97 percent of coal production in the country. Last month coal operation of the company was suspended by the Department of Energy (DOE) following the landslide in North Panian that left nine workers dead.

The suspension will take effect while the DOE probe is being conducted.

The DOE added that it ordered the suspension of coal-export shipments to prioritize the requirements of domestic coal consumers.

Semirara is hoping that the DOE suspension order would be lifted soon since the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has already lifted a similar order.

The DENR suspended the company’s environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for its East Panian expansion project on July 21.

The lifting of the DENR suspension order was issued “on the basis of its finding that there is no adverse effect or damage to the environment in relation to the landslide that occurred at the North edge of the Panian Mine and same is “due to fortuitous event.” source

Southwest Luzon Power, Meralco ink PSA

Manila Times
August 25, 2015 10:37 pm

Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Semirara Mining Corp., has entered into an agreement to supply power to Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), Semirara said Southwest Luzon will supply power to the local Retail Electricity Supplier (RES) segment of Meralco for two years.
The PSA, which will run from March 26, 2016 until December 25, 2018, will have a total capacity of 120 megawatts (MW).
Semirara said the PSA may be extended up to four years upon mutual agreement of the parties.
SEM Calaca Power Corp., also a wholly owned subsidiary of Semirara Mining, is currently operating a 600-MW coal-fired thermal power plant in Calaca, Batangas.
The company is currently developing a 300MW power plant adjacent to the existing one as part of its expansion.
The 300-MW coal facility (Phase 1) of Southwest Luzon is part of a bigger project to have a new 1,200-MW coal-fired power plant complex in Batangas.
With the expansion, Semirara will be able to triple the capacity of its existing 600-MW Batangas coal facility at the site to 1,800 MW.
For its part, Meralco remains committed to take the lead in driving innovation and creating a better future with MPOWER, its local retail electricity supplier.
MPOWER is the preferred retail electricity supplier across top industries, the company said. source

Power firm assures no brownouts next year in Davao City

By Antonio L. Colina IV on August 25 2015 7:51 pm

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 August) — Davao Light and Power Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Corp., on Tuesday assured consumers there will be no rotational brownouts within its franchise area during summer months next year.

This was announced by DLPC senior vice president Arturo Milan during the National Grid Power Corporation’s Mindanao Power Situation Forum at the SMX Convention Center Davao.

Milan said they will augment their existing power reserve of 100 megawatts by contracting 50 MW of the 150-MW second unit of Therma South Inc., a coal-fired power plant also owned by Aboitiz Power which will be commissioned by March next year.

He added that due to the looming power crisis brought about by the El Nino the power firm is doing all it can to run TSI’s second unit by end of this year to fill in the power lack.

He said they are projecting the demand for Davao City next year would be 355 MW and the additional 50 MW it will contract from TSI – on top of its existing 100 mw reserve –would be enough to prevent rotational brownouts.

“With our contract and those they (National Power Corporation) are contracting with, we have more than enough to cover us,” he said.

Milan said the power situation within its franchise area is seen to get worse in the next five days as the 150-MW unit 1 of TSI will be shut down in preparation for its commercial operation.

“Next year may additional capacity na papasok but in the next five days medyo tight ang supply, possible rotational brownouts,” he said.

He said the plant shutdown might result in 1- to 2-hour rotational brownouts.

He said that DLPC is “preparing for the worst” although rotational brownouts might not happen if the NPC supplies them with sufficient power.

Milan reiterated that there should be enough baseload plants in Mindanao that don’t depend on ample rainfall unlike the hydropower plants.

The Agus and Pulangui hydropower complexes supply 55 percent of Mindanao’s power capacity.

“In Mindanao, we are so dependent on hydro, and every summer period, we are very much affected because the water level is low,” Milan said.

Romeo Montenengro, director for investment promotions, international relations, and media affairs of Mindanao Development Authority, said they want for Mindanao a balanced power mix – 50 percent hyrdo and 50 percent fuel.

The demand of DLPC’s franchise area is between 300 and 340 MW but as of Tuesday, the supply it got from NPC was only 218 MW out of its 280-MW contracted capacity.

DLPC is tapping its standby Bajada Diesel Power Plant with a sustained capacity of 40 MW.

DLPC also has contracted power capacity from Hedcor’s Tudaya 1 with 6.6 MW and the 42.5 MW of Sibulan A and B in Davao del Sur. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews) source

Semirara unit, Meralco sign power supply deal
Posted at 08/25/2015 11:22 AM
MANILA - Semirara Mining and Power Corporation on Tuesday said it has closed a power supply agreement with Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

Semirara said that the deal was signed through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corporation.

The power supply deal has a term until December 25, 2018, which may be extended up to four years.

"We disclosed that the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corporation and Manila Electric Company Local RES segment have signed a Power Supply Agreement (PSA) with a term until December 25, 2018 which may be extended up to 4 years upon mutual agreement of the parties at a total capacity of 120 MW effective March 26, 2016," Semirara said in a disclosure to the stock exchange.

Semirara, controlled by DMCI Holdings, makes up 97 percent of Philippine coal production. source

Monday, August 24, 2015

NEA fasttracking rural electrification

By Danessa O. Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 24, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The National Electrification Administration (NEA) is targeting to complete the Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) six-months ahead of schedule to avoid coinciding with the national elections in May 2016.

NEA, a government owned-and-controlled corporation, is tasked to carry out electrification on an area coverage basis, through the electric cooperatives.

The state-owned agency committed to electrify 32,441 sitios until the end of President Aquino’s term in June 2016.

However, NEA administrator Edita Bueno said the agency will work to finish the electrification program this year.

“We are targeting to do this by the end of the year, though we said before that these will all be energized until the President’s term is done,” she said.

“We want to do it much earlier considering the elections on the first part of next year, so we don’t want to be distracted,” she added.

As of end-July, NEA has achieved 79 percent of the target under the SEP, equivalent to 25,257 sitios.

There are still 6,884 sitios to be energized, where 2,301 are scheduled to be energized in the third quarter and 4,583 in the fourth quarter.

“But we hope that we can advance some to the third quarter. We have several strategies to be able to do that,” Bueno said.

Among the measures NEA has put in place included housewiring and installation cost; accredited regional technical evaluators; created Sitio Implementation Unit in the electric cooperatives; encouraged participation of civil society organizations; issued unbundled price index of 5 MVA and 10 MVA substations; and seriously complied with Commission on Audit rules and regulations. source

Enfinity unit adding 100 MW solar capacity

By Danessa O. Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 24, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The local unit of Belgium-based solar developer Enfinity N.V. is planning to put up additional 100 megawatts (MW) in three of its planned seven solar power plants in the country, but the expansion of these projects will not be pursued under the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme.

Enfinity Philippines Renewable Sour-ces Inc. has secured seven sites for solar projects, four of which are being constructed, its president Dennis C. Ibarra said in an interview.

The four solar plants are located in Concepcion, Tarlac; Clark, Pampanga; in San Roque, Digos, Davao; and in Cavite. These four plants are scheduled for completion by year-end with a total capacity of 100 MW.

Ibarra, however, declined to disclose the locations of the three other plants.

“Of the seven, we will have several sites with 100-MW. One of them, we want it to be in Concepcion. The other two, I cannot divulge yet but we have the land already,” he added.

For the Concepcion solar project in particular, Enfinity Philippines is now securing land for the expansion of the plant, which is targeted to be completed by end-2016.

“Our goal is to finalize those leases in the October, November time frame and to finish the next phase by the end of next year, but maybe it will be a March 2017 commissioning,” Ibarra said.

When asked on the cost of expansion, Ibarra said it will depend on the price of solar panels, as well as the local costs.

For the expansion of solar plants, the company will not rely on FIT, the official said. Instead, the additional capacity of these plants may be traded on the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) or will be contracted under bilateral agreements.

WESM is the country’s trading floor for electricity.

“We’re not going to depend on FIT in the future. We want to provide more power, and if we’re competitive, that’s great,” Ibarra said.

Under the FIT, eligible renewable energy (RE) developers will be given a set of incentives for their RE projects.

For solar developments, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) adopted the new P8.69 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) FIT rate for 500-MW allocation for this technology.

Ibarra said the company will not avail of the FIT in the next phases because it has already established the supply chain with just the first four projects.

“We already have the supply chain. Six weeks ago, we announced the first four sites, then there’s going to be two or three more. When you’re bringing in four, then seven sites, you already have economies of scale,” Ibarra said. source

ERC readies participation in Competition Commission

By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 24, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is forming a technical working group (TWG) to help in forming the Competition Commission created under the recently signed fair trade law.

“We will issue in the next few days a TWG to participate in the formulation of implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the Competition Commission,” newly-appointed ERC chairman Jose Vicente Salazar said.

On July 21, the President signed the landmark Fair Competition Act or Republic Act 10667, which promotes free and fair competition in trade, industry and all commercial economic activities.

Under the law, a five-man Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) will be established, with the President appointing a chairman, four commissioners and an executive director.

Among the powers given to the PCC include imposition administrative fines of P100 million for the first offense and P250 million for the second offense for abuse of dominant position and prohibited merger.

“The President has signed it over a month ago, there has not been an initiative to form the TWG to handle the IRR. But in ERC, we are already forming a TWG so that when they form it, we are ready to provide them with inputs,” Salazar noted.

The ERC chair noted that he had a small role in drafting the law when he was still in the Department of Justice (DOJ), under the office for competition and he can share his knowledge to the power regulator.

“We know some parts of the history of the law, like why certain provisions were included and the debates on the final provision,” he said.

“We can deal and attend to this matters in the IRR. I can provide with this TWG, which we will form in our office, with some guidance on how they could provide means to reach the objectives of the law,” Salazar noted.

The Competition Act seeks to prevent economic concentration, which will control the production, distribution, trade or industry that will unduly stifle competition, distort, manipulate or constrict the discipline of free markets, and penalize all forms of anti-competitive agreements, with the objective of protecting consumer welfare and advancing domestic and international trade and economic development.

In its own turf, The ERC is currently working on resolving the case of the 12 power players found to have withheld power supply in December 2013, considered an anti-competitive behavior, that resulted in record high electricity rates.

A pre-hearing conference is targeted by end-August to finally start the much-delayed probe on the case. source

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mindanao co-ops to oppose sale of STEAG

Business World Online
Posted on August 23, 2015 05:53:00 PM

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- Thirty-four electric cooperatives in Mindanao have banded together to lobby the government with the intent of blocking the auction of STEAG State Power, Inc.’s (SPI) coal-fired energy output to independent power producers (IPPs).

The Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (Amreco) launched here a campaign last week to gather 200,000 signatures from consumers of its member cooperatives by November in a bid to persuade the government to maintain the direct delivery of the SPI’s power to the Mindanao grid.

Amreco Executive Director Clint Django G. Pacana said the group is confident of mustering enough support for the petition from their customer base of about five million on the southern island.

“The electric utilities, including their member cooperatives, would be forced to increase their electricity rates if the plan pushes through to recoup the generation costs being imposed on them by the winning IPP,” Mr. Pacana said.

Cagayan de Oro Chamber and Industry Foundation, Inc. President Cerael C. Donggay, who attended the Amreco petition launch, expressed support for the cooperative group.

Mr. Donggay said any sale of energy assets that would result in an increase in electricity rates is illegal, citing Section 4 Rule 23 of the law governing the power industry.

Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 provides for the privatization of the government’s power assets and established the wholesale electricity spot market, a trading platform for electricity supply that is intended to make rates competitive through IPPs that offer prices every hour.

Proposed amendments to the EPIRA are currently being discussed by Congress. In June, a panel of the House of Representatives approved the exemption from privatization of the Agus and Pulangi hydropower complexes, the two main energy sources of Mindanao.

SPI has a total capacity of 210 megawatts (MW), of which 200 MW is up for auction.

A Sept. 23 deadline has been set for prospective IPPs to submit bids. -- Mark D. Francisco source

ERC may review DOE order on CSP

Business Mirror
by Lenie Lectura - August 23, 2015

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) may review the controversial Department of Energy (DOE) circular that requires distribution utilities (DUs) to resort to auction in securing their power requirements from power-generation companies.

ERC Commissioner Josefina Patricia M. Asirit said the agency will “act more prudent” in dealing with the DOE circular on Competitive Selection Process (CSP). The ERC is tasked to come up with the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) in October this year.

Asirit said there could be “far-reaching implications” arising from the implementation of the DOE circular. “But if it will compromise certain aspects, then maybe we should revisit it.”

The DOE circular states that all DUs shall procure power supply agreements (PSAs) only through CSP conducted through a third party duly recognized by the ERC and the DOE.

The circular applies to future contracts. It does not apply to existing PSAs that have been approved or have been filed for approval before the ERC.

Asirit said a technical working group composed of experts from the ERC and DOE was formed to craft the IRR, supposedly within 120 days from the time the circular took effect on June 30.

But the crafting of IRR is a long process, as this would still have to undergo public hearings to solicit comments from industry stakeholders. Besides, she said, Malacañang had just appointed a new ERC chairman.

“This is something which has not been brought yet to the new ERC chair. This is something that we, among the commissioners, need to discuss. There are publications and possibly parties that may want to intervene, which will make the process long,” she explained.

ERC Chairman Jose Vicente B. Salazar, for his part, said the agency “can hire more technical people” to assist in crafting the IRR, and that there is no need to tap the services of third-party consultants. A third-party consultant, he said, “has no accountability.”

Former Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla, who signed the controversial DOE circular shortly before he resigned, earlier said the International Finance Corp. has been tapped by the DOE to conduct a study on the IRR and that the results of which will be forwarded to the ERC. There is no update from the DOE on this.

Salazar said the ERC will promulgate the rules for CSP, but it also has the option to “revisit” the policy. “I’ve been known to be impartial. When I was with the DOJ [Department of Justice], we would consider all arguments and set aside all biases so we could arrive at a fair decision on the matter. I can assure everyone that I will thoroughly study it and that the decision will be fair,” the former undersecretary of the DOJ said.

The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), a DU that sources the majority of its power requirements through bilateral contracts, is against the mandatory implementation of CSP, saying it will best work if implemented voluntarily.

“Our view is it doesn’t promote the best interest of consumers. It’s a nice concept, an attractive concept, but do it on a voluntary basis,” Meralco President Oscar S. Reyes earlier commented.

Meralco officials said the CSP scheme is unfair because only the DUs and electric cooperatives (ECs) are mandated to comply, but not the generation companies (gencos). “What if the participating gencos are flippers, or those that are not serious? How can the DUs, such as us, get the best rate for our consumers in such cases,” they lamented.

When asked if Meralco would volunteer to adopt the CSP, Reyes said the most appropriate model for Meralco would be “a mix of bilateral, voluntary CSP and WESM [Wholesale Electricity Spot Market].”

Reyes pointed out that different utilities have different requirements. “Will the template for CSP fit everyone? Are we sure that all gencos that will participate are serious? We are only mindful of what’s best for the consumers.” AC Energy Holdings Inc. of the Ayala group, on the other hand, is in favor of the CSP.

“We are obviously in favor and we don’t see that any different from what is already happening in the PPP (public-private partnership] as long as it is run properly,” AC Energy Holdings Inc. President John Eric Francia said.

Francia said the next crucial part is the drafting of IRR. “The devil is in the details. A lot of details and variables need to be thoroughly studied so the intent and the spirit of the circular is addressed properly.”

Francia said power producers, such as AC Energy, should not be mandated to also participate in the CSP. “According to the DOE circular, it’s not mandatory for the gencos. So, we can sell to contestable customers or at the WESM,” he said.

Petilla said he expected industry stakeholders to oppose this all the way to the courts. “For me, this is just common sense. Why is it good and why is it not good? I am quite sure that the DOE will take into consideration any opposition they have, but the main reason we will have CSP is transparency,” Petilla had said.

Industry sources said CSP is also meant “to eliminate self-dealing activities in cases when the DU has an affiliate or sister firms engaged in power generation.”

In the power industry, it is a known fact that Meralco has a power arm engaged in the generation business, while AboitizPower is also involved in distribution business via Visayan Electric Co., Subic Enerzone Lima Enerzone and Davao Light.

Another former energy secretary, Francisco L. Viray, however, viewed it differently. “If that’s what is being targeted, then that is what should be addressed. Why allow cross ownership in the first place?”

Besides, Viray said, there could be other ways in procuring competitively. He also noted that the crafting of the template for the auction is a difficult task. “If it’s going to be an open bidding, then that could even be an avenue for court litigation,” which, Viray noted, could only delay the entire process. source

Friday, August 21, 2015

New ERC chief vows to cut case backlogs

Manila Standard Today
By Alena Mae S. Flores | Aug. 21, 2015 at 10:40pm

Newly-installed Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Jose Vicente Salazar has committed to expedite the processing of unresolved cases at the agency.

Salazar said the commission decided as many as 15 cases in a day last week, reflecting the agency’s efforts to rid the agency of pending backlog of cases.

“While there are priority cases, all undecided cases for many years now are also going to be in our priority list,” Salazar said.

The official said ERC had pending cases because of its lean work force. Salazar said one of his focus as the new ERC chairman was to increase the number of employees and raise their salaries.

“We are lobbying with DBM [Department of Budget and Management] to provide us with additional plantilla of personnel so that we can also address the policies of the DoE [Department of Energy],” he said.

Salazar said aside from the plan to raise ERC employees’ salaries by 25 percent, the agency was looking at providing transport service and additional health benefits.

Salazar also vowed to “fairly and impartially” decide on the pending anti-competitive behavior case filed by the agency’s investigating unit against 12 companies.

ERC’s investigating unit earlier filed complaints against 12 companies for anti-competitive or market behavior that led to the price spikes during the Malampaya maintenance shutdown in November to December 2013.

The cases, filed in June this year, was the result of the report of the investigating unit that was completed after more than a year.

The companies cited were Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (for Malaya and Casecnan plants), Therma Mobile Inc., Manila Electric Co., 1590 Energy, CIP II Power Corp., Trans-Asia Power Generation Corp., AP Renewables Inc., Udenna Management Resources Corp., Strategic Power Development, GN Power Mariveles and SEM-Calaca Power Corp.

“I’ve always been known to be not just impartial but fair. Even in my old job…I will consider all the arguments and then I will set aside all biases so that I can give a fair decision on the matter,” Salazar said.

“Of course, you have to remember that I am the chair but I have four other commissioners with me. I only have one vote out of the five. What I can assure you is that personally, I will study this thoroughly and will go through due process. I can assure you would be fair and that my decision will be fair,” he said.

Salazar, a lawyer, had served as Justice undersecretary before being appointed to ERC.

Salazar joined the five-man commission composed of commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana. source

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Signature campaign vs power plants privatization kicks off

Sunstar Cagayan de Oro
Thursday, August 20, 2015

THE Association of Mindanao Rural Electricity Cooperatives, Inc. has launched a signature campaign urging the national government to stop the privatization of Independent Power Producer Administration (IPPA) of Steag State Power Inc. (SPI).
The campaign, dubbed as 'SIPPA Privatization' aims for 200,000 signatures over the region and one million signatures all over Mindanao to push for the fight against privatization.
"Sa kinatibuk-an, hunungun na unta ang tanang privatization efforts sa atong power assets diri sa Mindanao," Amreco executive director Clint Django Pacana said.
Pacana said the privatization is 'untimely' since Mindanao is still facing shortage of power supply since 2012.
He added that until the new power plants in the island will become 'fully operational' and will be able to supply stable power in the grid, privatization should not be considered.
The IPPA is an entity of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) of National Power Corporation (NPC) which manages the contracted power output between an Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and the NPC.
IPPA is a product of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act EPIRA law which supposedly reduces the cost of electricity by liberalizing power sector, sets deregulation measures and privatization.
However, according to Pacana, given the 'bleak power situation' in Mindanao, privatizing the administration of IPPs would result to an increase of generation costs 'since distribution utilities will be Compelled to contract out their generating plants.'
"This move will be adding insult to injury and will only burden the power consumers more. Remember kining among lihok dili para protektahan ang mga electric cooperatives kung dili para protektahan ang mga konsumante. Doble triple ang mapasa sa mga consumers kung kini dili nato mapugngan," Sergio Dagooc, president of Amreco said.
Dogooc also urges Mindanaons not to support the authors and supporters of the privatization.
"Puhon atong bantayan kinsa kining mga politicians na gasuporta sa privarization, na dili nato botaran, they do not deserve reelection," Dagooc said.
Meanwhile, the 34 electric cooperatives under Amreco also showed their support against the looming privatization of Agus-Pulangi Hydroelectric power plants which supply 50 percent of the power supply
in Mindanao.
The PSALM said it will proceed with the sale of the Agus and Pulangi plants, and only an amendment of the Epira law will prevent it from happening.
Letters and resolution are being passed by Amreco to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III as another move to strengthen IPPA.
"Seryoso kita aning atong kampanya na supak sa pag-pribado sa IPPA of Steag ug sa Agus and Pulangi ug uban pang power plants, dili kini siya declaration lang, in general. We are pushing for the 200,000 signatures around Northern Mindanao," Pacana added. source

NGCP wants laws to protect transmission lines

Business World Online
Posted on August 20, 2015 07:07:00 PM

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has appealed to local government units as well as Congress to enact laws that will prohibit and penalize the building of structures and the planting of trees near transmission lines.
In a briefing here on Wednesday, NGCP spokesperson Cynthia P. Alabanza said local and national laws will provide more teeth when the company needs to assert right-of-way for power transmission lines.

NGCP’s head of maintenance, Gildo R. Listano, explained that there should be no natural or man-made structure within nine meters from any transmission line as a precaution against electrocution and outages.

Mr. Listano said the regulations should be in place up to the barangay level for stronger implementation.

The NGCP operates a total 19,490 circuit kilometers of transmission lines and 27,726 mega-volt amperes of substation capacity from Luzon to Mindanao.

In Mindanao, Ms. Alabanza said the lines emanating from the Balo-i station in Lanao del Norte are the most critical since the station supplies about a quarter of the Mindanao grid’s requirements. These lines traverse Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Surigao del Sur.

“If a line trips and this particular line runs through our load centers in Davao or Gensan, then there will be a massive blackout,” she said.

In a meeting with law enforcement officials, Ms. Alabanza presented photos of transmission lines obstructed by trees, vegetation and even houses.

Ms. Alabanza said some landowners in Lanao del Norte are taking advantage of the situation by intentionally growing trees beside the transmission lines and applying for right-of-way claims. Last week, Ms. Alabanza made the same appeal during a meeting of Mindanao vice-governors, who, under the law, also chair their respective provincial councils, which enact local ordinances. -- Mark D. Francisco source

San Miguel power unit raises $300 mln via bond sale

Manila Bulletin
by Reuters
August 20, 2015 (updated)

MANILA, Aug 20 (Reuters) - SMC Global Power Holdings, a unit of Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp, said on Thursday it had raised $300 million from a bond issue to fund ongoing projects.

SMC Global President Alan Ortiz confirmed the bond issuance by the country’s biggest power producer. It was priced at 6.75 percent, in line with initial guidance, and follows the issuer’s $300 million bond sale in April priced at 7.50 percent, according to IFR, a Thomson Reuters unit.

IFR quoted an unnamed banker on the deal as saying that the issuer was targetting appetite for credits away fromChina following the yuan’s devaluation that prompted Chinese offshore bonds to sell off in secondary markets.

ANZ, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, DBS Bank Ltd, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, ING, Mizuho Securities and UBS acted as joint bookrunners.

San Miguel was previously looking to raise about $1 billion from the sale of a 49 percent stake in SMC Global to cornerstone investors and via an initial public offering. source