Friday, January 29, 2016

Largest Mindanao solar plant starts

By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 29, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Mindanao’s largest solar facility rises in South Cotabato, providing five megawatts (MW) of solar power to the Minda-nao grid, alleviating the power shortage in the province.
NV Vogt Philippines Solar Energy One Inc. formally opened the first five megawatts of its 10-MW plant in Surallah, South Cotabato last Saturday, Reynaldo Casas said in a phone interview with The STAR.
“It is among the 10 solar facilities eligible to receive incentives under the feed-in tariff scheme, but the only one in Mindanao,” he said.
Under the FIT scheme, solar developers have until March 2016 to complete and produce power from their projects to be eligible to receive the new P8.69 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) FIT rate, among other incentives.
Casas noted the solar facility, which took only 80 days to build, “is an expression of investor appetite in Mindanao.”
The P1.3-billion solar was launched August 2015 to improve South Cotabato’s investment climate and agricultural productivity. The province currently suffers from power shortage due to the reduced dependability of the Agus-Pulangi Hydro Power Plants and more recently, the worsening El Nino phenomenon.
The project, composed of 23,520 solar panels, is a joint initiative of the local government unit of Surallah and the NV Vogt-Philippines Solar Energy One Inc., which is backed by German IB vogt GmbH.
Its major off-taker is South Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Socoteco 1), which will distribute electricity to consumers in General Santos City, eight municipalities in South Cotabato and Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat.
Apart from the Mindanao project, NV Vogt Philippines is also working on two bigger solar projects in Tarlac and is eyeing another one in Pangasinan, Casas said.

DOE mulls bidding for renewable energy contracts on per area basis

By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 29, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) is eyeing to bid out contracts to develop renewable energy (RE) resources per area to further boost development in the sector and allow more players in the field, as well as prevent further transmission contraints in the future.
This will be the direction of RE development after the end of President Aquino’s term, DOE Secretary Zenaida Monsada said.
She noted there are data on the RE resources with the DOE-Renewable Energy Management Bureau (REMB) and National Renewable Energy Board (NREB), but only for wind and solar.
Contracts for these resources will then be auctioned off to the private sector through competitive selection process (CSP), she added.
Monsada said the DOE will start updating the RE component of the Power Development Plan aimed to avoid transmission constraints when developing RE projects in one area.

Lower oil, power, transport costs: Inflation forecast at 0.8-1.6% in January

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 29, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) sees inflation for this month averaging between 0.8 and 1.6 percent amid the minimum fare rollback for jeepneys and cheaper power rates.
BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said the continued softening in oil prices helped offset the rise in rice prices and the annual adjustment in excise taxes for cigarette and liquor.
“The decline in power rates, lower domestic oil prices, and downward adjustment in the minimum jeepney fare could offset the slight uptick in rice prices as well the annual sin tax adjustments,” he said.
Inflation eased to a 20-year low of 1.4 percent last year from 4.1 percent in 2014 on the back of stable food prices and cheaper utility rates.
“Going forward, the BSP will continue to monitor closely evolving price conditions in line with the BSP’s commitment to price stability conducive to balanced and sustained economic growth,” Tetangco said.
Earlier, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said the country’s current monetary policy settings remain appropriate as inflation is projected to return gradually to the two percent to four percent target for 2016 and 2017.

Basic Energy abandons four hydropower contracts to focus on geothermal projects

January 28, 2016 By Lenie Lectura

Basic Energy Corp. (BEC) has decided to abandon four hydropower service contracts awarded to the power firm last year, which are in Negros Occidental, to focus on its geothermal projects.
“The board decided to return to the Department of Energy its four hydropower service contracts covering Puntian 1, Puntian 2, Malogo 2 and Talabaan,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.
Though these four hydropower projects showed “promise” based on initial studies, the company opted to concentrate on its geothermal projects, which “provide greater potential.”
“The move is in support of efforts to streamline its renewable projects and concentrate resources on its geothermal service contracts and other projects in the pipeline,” Basic Energy said.
The geothermal projects of the company include the Iriga Geothermal Power Project; Mariveles Geothermal Power Project and the East Mankayan Geothermal Power Project. It is also working on another geothermal project in West Bulusan, Sorsogon.
The company also said it is keen on investing in projects with faster turnaround time, among them prospects in solar energy.
Meanwhile, Basic Energy announced that the board has approved the budget for the drilling of the first well in its Mabini Geothermal project. However, the board decided not to divulge the amount, pending approval from consortium members.
In its meeting on January 27, “the BEC Board of Directors thumbed up management’s proposed budget to bring the project to drilling in May this year. The approved budget includes land rights, civil works, and drilling and well testing costs,” it reported.
Located in the Calumpan Peninsula, the Mabini Geothermal Sevice Contract No. 8 covers 3,841 hectares. Based on the Pre-Feasibility Study, the area is projected to yield a power capacity of between 20 megawatts and 60 MW.

AboitizPower to dialogue with PEMC to resolve P235-million penalty issue

January 28, 2016 By Lenie Lectura

ABOITIZ Power Corp. is willing to continue negotiations with Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) to resolve their dispute following a Court of Appeals (CA) decision that junked the market operator’s appeal to impose a P235-million fine against an AboitizPower subsidiary.
“We are pleased with the CA decision and will dialogue more with PEMC to reach a satisfactory settlement,” AboitizPower President Antonio Moraza said when sought for comment.
On Thursday, AboitizPower said in a disclosure to the stock exchange that it received the CA decision dated December 14, 2015, denying PEMC’s petition for review assailing the April 1, 2015, decision of Branch 157 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Pasig City.
The RTC Branch 157 in Pasig City issued a writ of preliminary injunction preventing PEMC from collecting from Therma Mobile Inc. the amount of P234.9 million in financial penalties. The CA’s upheld the local court’s decision.
The CA also prevented PEMC from charging interest on the financial penalties. Likewise, the appellate court prevented PEMC from transmitting its investigation report to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), until the dispute is finally resolved through the dispute resolution process of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market Rules and Dispute Resolution Market Manual.
In the same order, the court made a prima facie determination of the existence of an arbitration agreement between TMO and PEMC, and ordered the parties to continue with the dispute resolution process embodied in the WESM Rules and WESM DRMM.
Aboitiz said negotiation meetings conducted by the parties have already commenced.
When sought for comment, PEMC said it “will endeavor to release a statement tomorrow (Friday) after our board meeting.”
Early last year, PEMC said TMO withheld capacity during the November and December 2013 supply period and imposed financial penalties.
TMO argued that it did not withhold any capacity, as it was physically impossible for TMO to transmit more than 100megawatts (MW) to the Manila Electric Company.
Although TMO’s rated capacity is 234 MW, it could only safely, reliably and consistently deliver 100MW during the period under investigation because of the thermal limitations of its transmission lines and the technical and mechanical constraints of its generating units, the company said.
Aside from TMO, PEMC also imposed penalties against the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) and Panasia Energy, Inc. for the same reasons.
In its report, PEMC said PSALM’s violation covers the 140MW Casecnan hydro plant and 650MW Malaya thermal power plant. PEMC imposed a total of P89-million penalty against the state firm.
Panasia Energy, which operates the 620-MW Limay power plant in Bataan, was also fined by PEMC for violating the must-offer rule. Panasia is owned by Millennium Energy Inc.
Under the must-offer rule, generation companies registered in the WESM must declare and offer the maximum generating capacities of their power facilities in the spot market.
Aside from PSALM, TMO and PANASIA, there were other power producers that violated the WESM rule but penalties were not meted out against them.
These are AP Renewables, Inc. (APRI); CIP II Power Corp.; Trans-Asia Power Generation Corp. (TAPGC); Udenna Management and Resources Corp.; Strategic Power Development Corp.; and SEM-Calaca Power Corp.
PEMC, according to its President Melinda Ocampo, only investigates breaches of the WESM rules. Any act of anti-competitive behavior is under the jurisdiction of the ERC.
“When it comes to PEMC our concern is only breaches in WESM rules. When it comes to anti-competitive rules, this is for ERC to find out. It’s beyond [our] jurisdiction,” Ocampo said.
The Supreme Court earlier ordered the ERC to investigate anti-competitive behavior and abuse of market power allegedly committed by some WESM participants. As such, PEMC conducted the investigations under the “must-run” and “must-offer” rules of the WESM.