Friday, November 27, 2015

Meralco sets sights on renewable energy

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 27, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is warming up for its renewable energy venture next year, with solar energy as its first foray, the company’s top official said.

In an interview Wednesday night, Meralco chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the company is looking at one or two solar projects with a generating capacity of between 20 megawatts (MW) to 40 MW next year.

With the average investment for solar farms currently placed at $2 million per MW, Meralco may need to allocate about $40 million to $80 million for its maiden solar venture.

Pangilinan said no specific budget has been allocated for the planned investment yet, but noted the company is “being opportunistic about these investments.”

“There are plans to go into renewable energy next year, probably solar. We’re open to wind as well. The capacities of these are not large as supposed to a coal plant or a gas plant but we believe we should be in that space,” he said.

Pangilinan in July this year bared plans of creating a new unit for Meralco’s planned renewable energy investments.

The unit will be a separate entity from power generating unit Meralco Powergen Corp. (MGen).

MGen, for its part, is eyeing to build a portfolio of up to 3,000 MW of new power capacity to come mainly from baseload power plants that will address the growing energy demand in the country.

Shell searches for partners for planned LNG terminal

By Danessa O. Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 27, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. is looking for partners to finally push through with its planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the country, its top official said.

The local subsidiary of energy giant Royal Dutch Shell has long completed the front-end engineering and design (FEED) and is now in talks with partners for the project necessary to have a final investment decision (FID), Shell country chairman and president Edgar Chua said.

“So we’re now working with partners, so hopefully we can proceed with a FID,” he said.

He declined to divulge the number and identity of the companies they are in talks with but noted these are a mix of local and foreign firms.

“We are continuously changing as we have taken an inclusive approach, i.e. discuss with whoever is interested to discuss,” Chua said.

Pilipinas Shell will come out with a FID as soon as it “completes discussions with government and prospective partners,” the company official added.

LNG is natural gas that has been converted into liquid for ease of storage or transport.

Based on its study, Pilipinas Shell can build a land-based or floating storage regassification unit (FSRU) LNG terminal.

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Zenaida Monsada earlier said Shell is looking at the business environment to finally push through with the LNG terminal.

The Philippines has been eyeing to build a natural gas pipeline to spur development of LNG projects. Power developers also see the potential of gas-fired power facilities to diversify the energy fuel mix of the country.

Australia’s Energy World Corp. (EWC) reportedly aims to start operating its gas-fired power plant next year, which was originally targeted in December 2014. This project is part of the company’s $800-million LNG facility in Quezon.

First Gen Corp. of the Lopez Group earlier announced plans to start construction of a $1-billion LNG facility next year.

AC Energy Holdings Inc., the power generating arm of conglomerate Ayala Corp., is also considering to add LNG to its energy portfolio but only when it is financially feasible to do so.

Power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is currently in discussions with Osaka Gas Co. Ltd for a $2-billion LNG project.

However, Chua noted potential developers of LNG are on a wait-and-see mode as the country remains too dependent on coal and is seen to continue that trend given the number of coal-fired power plants coming in by 2017.

“We see gas as the solution but investors cannot come in to build gas-fired plants, LNG import facilities if there is no guarantee they can dispatch power,” he said.

Chua pointed out earlier the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) should look at the competitiveness of natural gas in mid-merit for approval of power purchase agreements.

Pilipinas Shell and the DOE are now in talks to engage the power regulator on this matter.

“I think we’re working with the DOE on changing the view of ERC, that instead of looking at the generation cost for a plant, they should look at it from a portfolio view (to diversify fuel mix),” Chua said.

Alsons issues P7.5-B debt notes to fund RE projects


Alsons Consolidated Resources Inc. has tapped the debt market to raise P7.5 billion to fund new and existing power plants, as well as future ventures in renewable energy.
The company entered into an omnibus notes facility and security agreement with ING Bank N.V. for the fixed-rate corporate notes. The bank’s Manila Branch is the issue manager and bookrunner for the transaction.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Thursday, Alsons said the notes will be issued in five- and seven-year tranches.
Part of the proceeds from the debt notes will be used to prepay an existing loan facility.
According to Alsons, it is the first and most experienced independent power producer in Mindanao.
The company is currently developing coal-fired power plants, including the 105-megawatt (MW) San Ramon Power Inc. in Zamboanga and the 210-MW Sarangani Energy Corp. in Maasim, Sarangani. These power facilities are expected to provide a long-term baseload for Mindanao.
Alsons is also going into renewable energy, gearing up to start building a 15-MW hydroelectric plant at the Siguil River in Sarangani next year.
All of the power assets held by Alsons are expected to generate 588 MW by 2019, accounting for 25 percent of the projected peak demand for Mindanao.
The Alsons Group said it has been active in the economic development of the country for more than 50 years, mainly in Mindanao.

Repower Energy buys Philpodeco

November 26, 2015 9:30 pm  by RITCHIE A. HORARIO

REPOWER Energy Development Corp. (REDC) is overhauling at least three mini-hydropower plants in Laguna, after buying Philippine Power and Development Co. (Philpodeco).
Philpodeco owns three of the oldest operating mini-hydropower plants in the country.
Repower will upgrade the mini-hydropower plants with the latest run-of-river technology to multiply the output.
“Such systems basically generate energy by utilizing water in a reliable and controlled manner,” Repower said in a statement.
“The fact that these plants were not efficiently run by the former management, using only band aid solutions to mitigate problems, we are going to change all that through investment in technology and infrastructure,” said Dexter Y. Tiu, Repower chief executive.
The rehabilitations works are expected to increase the current output of the Balugbog, Calibato and Palapakin hydro plants by more than fourfold to generate over 11 Gigawatt-hours of clean, renewable energy per year.
“The beauty of these plants is that you know that the system has been operating for the last 88 years, and with the current hydrology study completed, it will still be productive for the next 100,” Tiu added.
The company is investing P300 million to overhaul of the hydro plants as recommended by Manny V. Vergel 3rd of Vergel3 Consult Inc., the only Filipino World Bank consultant on mini-hydropower.
Established in 1927, Philpodeco is the pioneer and longest running operator of mini-hydropower plants in the Philippines.
Before World War II, the company founded by the Americans and Filipinos put up four hydro plants in Laguna. It has since been supplying electricity to the municipalities of Majayjay, Magdalena, Sta. Cruz, Pila, Victoria, Bay, Los Baños, Calamba, and Sto. Tomas in Batangas.
During WW II, Philpodeco continued to operate under the Taiwan Denki Kaisha of the Japanese Military Administration.
In the 1960s, the company serviced 39 percent of Laguna. Of the 12 million kWh generated at that time, 70 percent was produced by Philpodeco, while 30 percent was purchased from Botocan and National Power Corporation.
Philpodeco continued to supply electricity to 11 of Laguna’s municipalities until President Ferdinand E. Marcos decreed in 1983 that Meralco was to take over Philpodeco’s distribution lines.
Meralco could not buy the hydropower plants as the law then precluded the distributor to generate power.
Repower is also developing over 50 MW of -hydropower plants in the provinces of Quezon, Bukidnon, and Camarines Sur.

One step back, two steps forward in the power industry,-two-steps-forward-in-the-power-industry&id=119021

“One step back, two steps forward,” was Mao Zedong’s favorite tactical advice. Sometimes, one step back is the best way forward. One such episode was connected with Oct. 27. That was the date set by law for the issuance of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for Department of Energy (DoE) Circular 2015-06-008 (DC 06-008, from hereon).

What is DC 06-008 anyway?

It mandates three items: (i) the Competitive Selection Process (CSP) for all uncontracted demand (those not yet covered by long-term contracts) of all distribution utilities (DUs); (ii) the aggregation of the demand of small DUs into bid-attractive volumes in the run-up to the CSP; and (iii) a single transactions manager to oversee and implement all the auctions and the employment of a uniform power supply contract. DC 06-008 came out of the blue.

Consultations prior to its issuance were for another circular, Demand Aggregation and Supply Auctioning Policy, which mandated the aggregation of uncontracted demand for all DUs. This was only one of its possibly several legal frailties. CSP -- which aims to “market test” the power supply agreements (PSA) -- was clearly the baby in the bathtub. It was also the most in-keeping with the pro-market leaning of Electric Power Industry Reform Act, the legal cover of the whole exercise. Some pushback from some stakeholders were aired over CSP but they focused mostly on the “how” rather than the “why.”

Since the power to enforce a CSP resides in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the DC 06-008 seemed to overstep DoE’s mandate. The bulk of the objections were clearly directed towards aggregation and the single manager/contract modality. Aggregation -- being only ancillary to CSP -- elicited mostly “how” queries.

It was the single transactions manager for all auctions and the possible use on a single contract that provoked valid questions of principle and efficiency. How, it was asked, can the single contract template cover all the peculiarities and contract preferences of different players? There are fundamental variations as to who bears what risk under what contingencies in contracting. The single transactions manager modality received withering criticisms: who oversees the single manager, what are its terms of reference, why no competition at this level, etc.? While the questions were not intractable, answers could not and should not be hurried.

And what about Oct 27?

All these abstruse and expertise-intensive issues had to be resolved by Oct. 27 when the IRR was mandated to be issued! To top it all, the position of Secretary of the DoE had yet to be filled. Quandary among industry stakeholders was the order of the day in the run-up to Oct. 27: hurry the IRR and a regulatory snarl could emerge to include lawsuits; delay it and the DoE may be in violation of the of the 120-day stricture for the issuance of the IRRs. The baby was in danger of being thrown out with the bath water!

Fortunately for the nation, a way out was found.

It came in the form of Joint Resolution 1 dated Oct. 20 by the DoE and the ERC. Joint Resolution 1 effectively turned over the responsibility of CSP to ERC, which put finis to the legal issue of enforcement. Heretofore, ERC will issue the appropriate regulations to implement CSP! Effectively averted was a regulatory nightmare. The ERC then issued Resolution No. 13 series of 2015 which mandated that, “Pending the issuance by the ERC of a prescribed CSP, a DU may adopt any accepted form of CSP.” Thus, CSP -- the jewel in the crown of the whole exercise -- is finally decoupled from ancillary instruments. CSP can thus now go forward before thorny problems with ancillary policies are properly resolved. Most importantly, it is for now the DU’s responsibility to prove to ERC that the CSP employed for its PSA is transparent and competitive! In the event that a PSA submission is made without a proper CSP, it can, as part of the evaluation, be made subject of a Swiss challenge. Truly two steps forward.

A truly welcome relief notwithstanding, the CSP was already in the works long before DC 06-008 and the brouhaha it triggered. In 2013, ERC, following proper consultations, had prepared a resolution mandating CSP, but which remained unsigned and likely sidelined by the initiatives of the DoE. Thus, after all the delay and costly contortions of the past two years, we are now back where ERC left off in 2013.

The said Joint Resolution 1 was signed by the ERC Chairperson Jose Vicente B. Salazar and the newly installed DoE Secretary Zenaida Y. Monsada. The latter finally accepted the standing offer to serve as DoE secretary despite its likely shortened tenure. Her acceptance and willingness to work with ERC averted a looming regulatory firestorm.

There is a lesson to be learned here.

Governments -- however well-meaning -- many times embrace even sensible ideas only to despoil them with over-ambition. Government honchos, following logics other than that of economic efficiency, tend to go for too big a bite. Massive social asphyxia follow. Nobel winner, Friedrich Hayek, called this a “fatal conceit” -- the inability of state actors to recognize their own limits to improve on markets. Surely, most markets are imperfect; but perfecting them calls most times for “nudges”, not for lobotomy. In the case of CSP, the DoE and ERC have hammered out an exception to the Hayek rule. Would that exceptions like this become the rule.

The views expressed in this column are the author’s alone and not of the Energy Policy Development Program of which he is a research fellow.

Raul V. Fabella the chairman of the Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis, a professor at the UP School of Economics, and a member of the National Academy of Science and Technology.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Off-grid energy storage eyed

November 26, 2015 12:11 am by RITCHIE A. HORARIO

AES Philippines, a subsidiary of American energy giant AES Corp., plans to put up hybrid energy storage systems in off-grid areas in an effort to provide cheaper electricity.

These off-grid areas are mostly under the Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) of the National Power Corp. (Napocor).

Neeraj Bhat, AES market business leader for the Philippines, said they have already started exploratory talks for such a project.

“We just started in the last few months a lot of interesting initiatives regarding a combination of solar and battery-based energy storage facilities in SPUG areas,” he told reporters.

Bhat said the company got interested in such a project because most of these off-grid areas suffer from high electricity costs.

“Most of those off-grid areas are effectively served by high-priced diesel [powered generators] and they’re at very, very high prices,” he said.

He said they have already sent offers to some off-grid electric cooperatives (ECs).
“We’ve actually priced out a few offers and made a couple of offers already to a couple of off-grid ECs to provide this hybrid solution,” he said.

He said the company has been in talks with the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for the implementation of the project.

“We’ve also had discussions with NEA on this as well. They asked us to speak in an off-grid EC conference that happened in end-September,” he said.

He said AES is very interested in continuing to work with other SPUG areas and provide them with a smaller customized power solution.

AES is developing its first energy storage facility in the country, the Masinloc AdvancionTM Energy Storage Array.

The plant, which will be the first battery-based energy storage facility in the Philippines, will be located next to the Masinloc power plant in Zambales.

AES is actively developing other battery-based energy storage systems across the Philippines, including a project in Negros Occidental which would improve the grid’s ability to incorporate the significant volume of renewable generation coming on-line in the Visayas in 2016.

Aussie group wins $7.3-B power deal

November 25, 2015 9:48 pm

SYDNEY: An Australia-led consortium of investment funds from Canada and the Middle East won the bid for electricity transmission network TransGrid on Wednesday, beating a Chinese challenger in a deal worth Aus$10 billion ($7.3 billion).

China’s State Grid was considered a frontrunner but the New South Wales state government said the strongest bid belonged to the locally led NSW Electricity Networks consortium.

“The transaction will deliver gross proceeds of Aus$10.258 billion which will help fund a raft of infrastructure projects across the state,” NSW Premier Mike Baird said in a statement.

The winning consortium includes Canadian pension fund Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ), the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s Tawreed Investments Limited, and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kuwait Investment Authority, Wren House Infrastructure.

The consortium is led by investment fund Hastings as manager of Utilities Trust of Australia, while locally listed Spark Infrastructure, which owns and manages energy assets, is also part of the group.

The Chinese bid had generated concerns given TransGrid is a critical piece of national infrastructure underpinning the NSW economy and a key part of the country’s electricity market.

State Grid’s loss comes just days after national Treasurer Scott Morrison blocked the sale of one of the world’s largest cattle estates to foreign entities, ruling it was not in the national interest.

Chinese companies Genius Link Group and Shanghai Pengxin had reportedly been in a bidding war to secure the S. Kidman and Co Ltd. pastoral empire for up to Aus$350 million ahead of that ruling.

And last week a decision by the Northern Territory to lease the Port of Darwin to a Chinese firm prompted a review of the rules that allow Australian states to sell strategic assets to foreign firms without federal scrutiny.

Morrison welcomed the awarding of the 99-year lease for TransGrid to the consortium.
“The Foreign Investment Review Board has been in extensive consultation with the NSW government for over 12 months to ensure that national interest considerations are addressed,” he said.

“This consultation has also included relevant . . . agencies that have an interest in the acquisition of critical infrastructure.”

Once the transaction is finalized, the state government will retain significant influence over TransGrid, including as regulator.

Morrison said he had asked for further safeguards that were “more stringent than any previous conditions imposed on acquisitions of critical infrastructure.

Napocor starts bid process for Leyte solar-diesel plant

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

MANILA, Philippines - The National Power Corp. (Napocor) has started bidding out the contract for a solar-diesel hybrid plant in Southern Leyte that would ensure 24/7 power supply in the area.

In a bid bulletin, Napocor said it is seeking bidders for the design, supply, delivery, installation, test and commissioning of the Limawasa solar photovoltaic-diesel hybrid power plant in Southern Leyte.

The approved budget for the contract is P55.55 million, which is approved under the agency’s corporate budget for 2015.

Napocor has scheduled a pre bid-conference on Dec. 3 and opening of bids on Dec. 15.

“Bids received in excess of the ABC (approved budget for the contract) shall be automatically rejected at bid opening,” the power firm said.

The Limawasa project is among the 21 plants Napcoor mulls for hybridization.

Napocor said it is spending over P400 million to transform 21 of its diesel power plants in SPUG areas into hybrid plants and is part of the state-owned firm’s renewable energy (RE) program for 2017-2020.

The power company has been planning the use of RE hybrid systems in its missionary electrification program to lower the Universal Charge for Missionary Electrification (UCME) of the 290 SPUG power plants across the country.

Currently, the UCME reflected in electricity bills is at P0.15 per kilowatt hour.

Under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001, UCME is collected from end-users which will be used for the electrification of remote communities or areas not connected to the main transmission grid.

DOE forecasts tight power supply in the Visayas grid

by Myrna Velasco November 25, 2015

In the next two to four years, Visayas grid on its own will still be problematic when it comes to its need for capacity additions, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

In a presentation to the Philippine Innovation in Infrastructure Congress hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), DOE acting assistant secretary Patrick Aquino has indicated that from “2018 to 2020, for Visayas supply and demand, there would be a gap.”

Nevertheless, he noted that the grid can benefit from its existing transmission interconnection with Luzon which is being propped with additional capacity on anticipated entry of new coal-fired and gas-fed power plants.

Mindanao, he added, will have a different fate and it could teeter more on “oversupply condition” – primarily kicking in next year.

If there is also a transmission system linkage between Visayas and Mindanao, he stressed that such overcapacity could be re-channeled to Visayas during tight supply periods.

The most immediate problem the government has to address when it comes to Mindanao supply will be the strike of El Niño phenomenon – that is until March next year and the succeeding summer months.

While new capacities will already be on-line by then, the “birth pains” of newly commissioned plants may still impact on its supply reliability as these facilities could still be very vulnerable to forced outages.

Reduced water elevation at Agus and Pulangui hydro plants will likewise continue to distress generation outputs, which conventionally is still a major supply source for the grid.

Recent studies cast for the power industry, however, portend that “the lingering years of tight power supply condition in the country will finally ease with the entry of new base load power capacities from 2016.”

It has been emphasized that “the precarious power supply situation in the Philippines will improve over the coming years as the robust power project pipeline is gradually commissioned.”

There had been some period of under-investments in new capacity additions in the country in the last decade because investors then preferred to funnel capital into the acquisition of the National Power Corporation (NPC) assets.

That changed in the last five years as the regulatory environment for the sector had also improved over the years.

DOE to get P2.84B to power off-grid areas

November 25, 2015 9:57 pm by RITCHIE A. HORARIO

THE Department of Energy (DOE) plans to spend almost P3 billion to provide far flung areas in the country with electricity.

Citing data from the Department of Budget Management (DBM), Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said the DOE will receive P2.84 billion to bring electricity to 3,150 hard-to-reach households next year.

Recto said the DOE is also setting its sights to energize 5,400 households in off-grid sites.
The government should tap the Sustainable Alternative Light or SALt lamps in bringing electricity to far-flung areas, according to the Senator, saying the P168.9-billion Malampaya can be tapped for mass producing SALt lamps.

The Malampaya fund largely consists of royalty payments the government receives from the proceeds of the gas-to-power natural gas field in offshore Northwest Palawan.

“If you look at government finances, there should be no problem in finding money for these saltwater lamps,” Recto said in a statement.

“You don’t even have to seek budget from Congress because some of these funds are off-budget, meaning they can be tapped without having to go through the annual appropriations route, like the Malampaya royalty remittances,” he added.

The Malampaya fund registered an outstanding balance of P168.9 billion as end-May.
Citing a report from the Bureau of the Treasury, Recto said releases from this fund has reached P42 billion.

In 2016, remittances from the Malampaya project are projected to hit P34.7 billion.
“This means, on a daily basis, Malampaya is pumping P91.7 million into the government coffers,” Recto noted.

The government’s “daily windfall alone is more than enough” to finance the development of SALt’s full potential, the senator said.

“If reports are true that P20 million is what the developers initially need to jumpstart the lamp’s production, then just six hours’ worth of Malampaya would be enough,” Recto said.

One saline solution-powered lamp is said to cost $20, plus $3 every six months for parts replacement.

SALt developer Engineer Aisa Mijeno said her company welcomes financial grants to mass produce the lamps.

Recto said government should offer Mijeno a joint venture deal.

The Department of Science and Technlogy’s (DOST) P19.1 billion budget for 2016 also features “grants to technology startups, assistance to inventors,” the senator noted
The Senate has called the attention of the DOST “to immediately reach out to Mijeno on the possibility of her project being given support.”

Recto pointed out that the SALt project would qualify for Malampaya funding under Presidential Decree 910, which states that government share from the exploitation of energy resources can be used to finance energy programs.

If load shedding returns I will resign – Zambales

by Geraldford Ticke - Nov 25, 2015

PALAWAN Electric Cooperative General Manager Ric Zambales said that he will leave his post if the problem of electricity in the province is not resolved by summer next year. In an exclusive interview with The Palawan Times last November 13, Zambales admitted that he will have to take the blame if the recurring brownouts continue by next year. “If the load-shedding is back summer, I will resign,” Zambales said. “I work at the pleasure of the board of directors, so I told them that if I cannot solve this problem, I have to resign,” he explained.

He said however that he is confident that the current power situation will normalize soon.

Right now, Delta P, one of the Independent Power Producers supplying electricity to Paleco has two reserve generator sets he said. “What they told me is that they are preparing it for December (this year) and summer time (next year,)” he explained. “So I said that maybe we will have to bear with a few hours of intermittent power interruptions today. I just told them to make sure that by summer time, we will have no blackouts and they assured me,” he added.

Zambales also explained that the current power capacity of the IPPs in the province is pegged at 42 megawatts “although the contracted capacity is 52.” But he said that the 42 megawatts is more than enough for the present demand. “Right now, our peak load is only 35 megawatts which we experience every afternoon,” he said.

He also said that come December, they expect to reach a maximum demand of 37. “Based on our previous records, we reached 37 megawatts peak load in December last year so we expect almost the same this year,” he said.

“At the height of summer time, we reached a peak of 39 megawatts but that was only for one hour. The stable peak load last year was 38 megawatts,” he explained.
He also explained that it was during that time that the high-speed generator sets of DMCI bogged down.

“They have to maximize the capacity so because it was a high-speed, the engines suffered,” he said. “Seven of their units were totally destroyed that resulted to our load shedding,” he added.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

PSALM settles P52.55 B financial obligations

By Danessa O. Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 25, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) has settled its financial obligations totaling P52.55 billion as of end-September.f
In a statement, the state-run firm said the amount consisted of P19.53 billion in debts, P13.27 billion in interest, and P19.75 billion in lease obligations to the independent power producers (IPPs).
“This is solid proof that PSALM has been effective and consistent in fulfilling its mandate to liquidate the financial obligations it absorbed from the National Power Corp., amidst the impact of currency fluctuations and other market forces,” PSALM president and CEO Lourdes S. Alzona said.
PSALM said it was able to liquidate its financial obligations because of its privatization program.
It said the payment for Power Barges 101, 102 and 103, which were turned over to their new owners in July this year, was the latest addition to its privatization proceeds.
These assets were acquired by Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp., the power generation arm of the Phinma Group, for P420 million.
PSALM said the financial obligations, inclusive of interest, it assumed from Napocor under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act peaked to P1.63 trillion in end-2003 from P1.22 trillion in 2000 with the commissioning of new power plants and the devaluation of the peso against the US dollar.
However, the state-run firm said its commitment to liquidate its financial obligations and eventually reduce its stranded debts through its Liability Management and Privatization Programs trimmed by nearly 60 percent from its the peak in 2003.
Its financial obligations amounted to only P674.04 billion as of the third quarter of 2015, inclusive of P108.82 billion interest.

AES earmarks $700M for Masinloc plant expansion

By Danessa O. Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 25, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The local unit of American energy giant AES Corp. is earmarking at least $700 million for the initial 300-megawatt (MW) expansion of the 630-MW Masinloc coal-fired power plant in Zambales, a ranking official said yesterday.
The company has decided to start with a 300-MW single unit expansion from the original plan of 600 MW, AES Philippines managing director Neeraj Bhat said on the sidelines of a forum organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines yesterday.
“Right now, we’re going to start with 300 MW and as we line up contracts, we have the option to go for the full 600 MW,” he said.
For the initial 300 MW, investment cost is pegged “north of $700 million” which will be a combination of 70 percent debt and 30 percent equity, the company official noted.
“(Debt) will be locally funded by local banks. Signing will be very soon, before the end of the year,” Baht said.
Meanwhile, equity will be shouldered by the project proponents.
AES has a 51-percent stake in the plant while Electricity Generating Public Co. Ltd. (EGCO) Group of Thailand has 41 percent and International Finance Corp. (IFC), eight percent.
Bhat said the Masinloc expansion is on track for full-swing construction in the first quarter of 2016, but early works will be commenced towards year-end.
“We’ve signed a number of power sales agreements with northern Luzon and some other customers so we expect that to enter construction very soon with limited works this year and to be online in early 2019,” Bhat said.
AES is also close to sealing a deal with an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, which the company official declined to name.
“We’re signing very shortly. It’s an international quality. We haven’t publicly disclosed it yet but it’s...a Western and high quality EPC contractor that’s done a lot of work with us. We have a strong relationship,” Bhat noted.

Brownout-free Mindanao by mid 2016, MinDA says…

by Alexander D. Lopez November 24, 2015

Davao City – The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) assured that Mindanao will “absolutely be brownout-free by middle of next year.”
The assurance was made by Romeo Montenegro, director of MinDA. during the opening of the Power Conference held at the Pinnacle Hotel here on Monday.
The conference that was facilitated by MinDA, together with the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB), Department of Energy (DOE), Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee (MPMC), Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) and Jaycees International, was attended  by about 100 representatives from electric cooperatives and other stakeholders in the power industry in Davao region and nearby provinces.
Montenegro said that the government was already working on a long-term solution to the problem of power shortages in Mindanao.
“In 2012, the government said enough was enough. We had the Mindanao Power Summit that was joined by President Aquino,” Montenegro said, adding that two months after the summit, the president issued Executive Order 81 creating the MPMC chaired by MinDA and co-chaired by DOE.
And for the last three years, the committee has served as a “venue for discussing and working out immediate and long-term measures to address the power situation in Mindanao.”
Among the long-term solutions was the transformation of the sources of power in Mindanao from hydro to diversified mixed sources.
“In the next five years, we are looking at the entry of other power plants, diversified from hydro. Coal, diesel and other renewable energy sources will be coming in. Mindanao will have diversified mix sources of power,” Montenegro emphasized.
The rise in the demand for electricity in Mindanao has continued to grow for the last 14 years with an average growth rate of six to seven percent, which is higher than national average.
However, electricity supply has not grown and has even deteriorated due to its over-reliance on hydropower.
“For the last 20 to 30 years we’ve been relying heavily on hydro power, the Agus in Lanao Sur and the Pulangi in Bukidnon,” he said.
And with hydro power being threatened by climate change, particularly the El Niño phenomenon, less rain but more drought could be expected. “We don’t have enough water to run these hydro plants,” Montenegro stressed.
Diversified power sources will come on line, some by the end of 2015, others by the middle of 2016 and the rest by 2017 and 2018, he said.

NGCP to file for new feasibility study on grid interconnection

by Myrna Velasco November 24, 2015

Transmission firm National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) will seek fresh round of regulatory approval on its proposed alternative route to link up Visayas and Mindanao grids.
Department of Energy (DOE) acting assistant secretary Patrick Aquino has stipulated that the new filing with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for a new feasibility study on Negros-Zamboanga Interconnection Project (NZIP) is already being firmed up by NGCP.
He stressed that the original plan of Visayas-Mindanao transmission link-up via Leyte had some technical hurdles because of the very deep trench that the project may traverse. Because of that, it has been noted that the project may require trench plunge of as deep as 34 kilometers that could then bloat the project’s funding.
From a preliminary cost estimate of P24-P25 billion, it was stipulated that the cost for Leyte-Mindanao Interconnection Project (LMIP) may jack up to P34 billion.
The targeted completion of the LMIP should have been 2018, but with the propounded new feasibility study, project timeframes are also expected to move.
Both NZIP and LMIP have been integrated in the Mindanao System Power Development Plan – so the transmission operator could have its ready alternative on the planned grid link-up.
With the NZIP study, the NGCP will have to evaluate the technical parameters of the two grids’ linkage as well as re-assess the project’s cost.
The link-up of the Visayas power system to Mindanao is seen as the last step to the country’s long term goal of fully connecting all three major power grids.
Luzon and Visayas grids are already interconnected and such set-up has been enabling the sharing of power capacities – and had been seen beneficial especially during critical supply months at either grids.