Monday, November 28, 2016

Keep Mindanao hydro plants in gov’t hands, co-ops ask

By: Jigger Jerusalem 
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 02:43 AM November 28, 2016

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY— Electric cooperatives in Mindanao are calling on the government to retain ownership of two major sources of cheap electricity in the island—the Agus and Pulangi hydroelectric plants in the provinces of Lanao and Bukidnon.

Allowing the plants to fall into the hands of the private sector, the cooperatives said, would lead to a sharp increase in power rates.

Mindanao consumers currently pay only P4.43 per kilowatt hour to the National Power Corp. (Napocor), through their electric cooperatives, in generation system charge.

But the Association of Mindanao Electric Cooperatives (Amreco) said the situation could change once the two power plants—which supply at least half of Mindanao’s power—are sold to the private sector.

In July, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Corp. (Psalm) said the plan to privatize the hydroelectric power plants by 2017 was on track.

Psalm, however, said the plan awaits a go-signal from the Duterte administration.

At a meeting here of Amreco officials, the 34-member group drew up a manifesto urging the government to review the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, which prescribed the privatization of government power generation plants in a bid to promote competitive pricing and stop the bleeding of government finances on power plants.

Under the law, Agus and Pulangi are among the plants exempted from immediate privatization but Psalm, which took over its ownership, had put it up for sale. While Psalm owns the hydropower facilities, Napocor continues to operate them.

The Agus hydropower complex has an installed capacity of at least 700 megawatts (MW) while Pulangi in Maramag, Bukidnon has an installed capacity of 255 megawatts.

The Department of Energy said it is looking at options on how to privatize the two facilities but admitted that their fate is up to Congress.

In an earlier interview, Sergio Dagooc, Amreco president, said it was better for the government to continue operating the two hydropower plants for the benefit of consumers.

“Keeping these (hydropower plants) in government will certainly moderate any price increase adjustments of power as Agus and Pulangi Plants will give a mix to the price of power that is lower,” he said in October.

Dagooc said Amreco also believes that selling the two facilities to the private sector would raise business operating costs. —JIGGER JERUSALEM

Another coal plant turned on as power consumption rises

By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. 
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 02:41 AM November 28, 2016

ILOILO CITY—Another coal plant was put online to bring more electricity to the Visayas.

The 150-megawatt coal-fired power plant here, owned by Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC) and built at a cost of P15.6 billion, has been switched on on Nov. 23.

It is the third generating unit of PEDC, which already has two 82-megawatt units operating in the village of Ingore, La Paz District.

The additional electricity is expected to meet growing demand for power in Western Visayas and other areas, which are experiencing an economic boom led by business activity in this city.

Generating capacity of power companies in the Visayas grid increased to 3,469 megawatts with the addition of the new coal power plant.

The supply does not yet include input from the 100-megawatt coal power plant owned by Kepco-Salcon Power Corp. in Cebu, which is undergoing maintenance work, according to engineer Jose Rey Maleza, supervising service research specialist of the Department of Energy Visayas field office.

Current electricity demand in the Visayas grid reaches 1,767 megawatts in the afternoon and 1,801 MW in the evening.

Maleza said the new plant would assure continued power supply in Panay Island even if submarine cables that bring power to Cebu, Negros and Panay Islands are cut or suffer problems.

The demand for power in Panay, especially Iloilo, continues to increase amid a construction boom and opening up of new businesses.

The city’s average power demand has reached at least 100 MW this year. The demand is expected to increase by at least 5 MW next year.

Business operators welcomed the additional power supply as a boost to the city’s economy.

“The additional capacity actually demonstrates the confidence of investors,” said Ma. Lea Lara, executive director of Iloilo Business Club.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cusi eyes revival of power market in Mindanao

Antonio L. Colina IV Nov 27

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 November) — Energy secretary Alonfoso Cusi is eyeing a review of the electricity market in Mindanao to address the huge excess in energy supply with new baseload coal-plants entering the island grid.

The Power Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), the operator of Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) in Luzon, used to handle the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM) before its suspension in February 2014 due to “system collapse in Mindanao” and the need to “resolve operational and commercial issues and concerns.”

In his message delivered by Energy undersecretary Benito Ranque during the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AMRECO) Summit in Cagayan de Oro City last Friday, Cusi said the electricity market will provide a venue for all distribution utilities and electric cooperatives to buy power even if they are not covered by an existing power supply contracts, at a competitive price.

He said the electricity market will ensure a stable power while at the same time foster a more competitive market that will bring in more investments to Mindanao.

Cusi said these developments “run parallel with President Rodrigo Duterte’s twin priorities of fully addressing the power situation, at the same time, pumping more economic activity and creating more jobs and livelihood in his most beloved homeland of Mindanao.”

He said the commissioning of about 973 MW combined power from base-load coal plants will cause a massive shift in the power situation of Mindanao from having a supply deficit to excess in power generation.

He said Mindanao power consumers should brace for this major change in the power supply side.

“If, as before, we had painstakingly grappled with issues of supply shortage and rotating blackouts, we may be facing this time novel issues concerning pricing and competition,” he said.

The energy secretary also acknowledged the role of the electric cooperatives in Mindanao power, describing it “relevant as ever” by providing end-users a direct linkage that allows for smooth, quick and unhampered flow of power.
“Such is the unquestionable importance of the electric coops that we want them to always be government’s proactive and effective partners,” he said.

He encouraged the electric cooperatives to put more emphasis on efficiency and high professional and ethical standards in their services.

“This improvement in the organizational culture alone will provide a healthier seedbed for all our desired reforms to take root and grow. For example, this will enable openness, transparency and competitiveness in all of our transactions and aspects of operations,” he said.

Engr. Glenn Reston, OIC of the Power Development Program of the Mindanao Development Authority said on October 25 during Energy Smart Mindanao 2016 at the Park Inn by Radisson Davao that Mindanao needs to have electricity market operating next year.

“With the surplus, even with two shutdowns, we can handle it,” he assured.

He said the electricity market will allow power companies in the island to reallocate the surplus to areas where there is power lack.

“We are entering a regime of surplus capacity. We need to have the market,” he emphasized. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)

Duterte to inaugurate Iloilo coal-fired power plant

Sunstar Iloilo
Sunday, November 27, 2016
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is set to inaugurate the coal-fired power plant of Panay Concepcion Power Corporation (PCPC) on November 28 at the MalacaƱan Palace.
The President will join PCPC officials in the ceremonial switch on of the 135-Megawatt Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion (CFBC) Power Plant in Barangay Nipa, Concepcion, Iloilo.
The power plant is a joint venture between Palm Thermal Consolidated Holdings Corporation (PTCHC), a subsidiary of A Brown Co. Inc. (ABCI), and Jin Navitas Resource Inc. (JNRI).
It started its commercial operations on August 16 this year.
Due to the increase of economic activities in the Visayas region, the Iloilo power plant is considered as a crucial power generation project to meet the demand and reserve requirements for power.
At present, the power plant is delivering power generation supply to its customers in Panay, Negros and the rest of Visayas.
Ten distribution utilities and electric cooperatives have also signed up with PCPC for their base load power capacity requirements.
Although it uses coal to generate electricity, PCPC employs the latest in clean generation through its circulating fluidized bed boiler technology. (PR)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

SEIPI sees natural gas as potential alternative to coal Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 03:08 PM November 26, 2016

The Semiconductor and Electronics Industries Foundation, Inc. (SEIPI) has cited its Annual Business Partner, First Gen, on the inauguration of its 414-MW San Gabriel combined-cycle and 97-MW Avion open cycle natural gas-fired power plants in Santa Rita, Batangas, on Nov. 11, 2106.
First Gen owns the 1,000-megawatt Santa Rita and the 500-megawatt San Lorenzo natural gas-fired power plants that are actually generating electricity that lowers the bills to consumers of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) .
SEIPI welcomed the inauguration of the new power plants, which provide much needed additional generating capacity to the Luzon Grid. As noted by Dr. John Morris of the International Energy Consultant in his May 2016 “Regional/Global Comparison of Electricity Tariffs” study, the Philippines should “focus on facilitating investment in new generation to meet rapid demand growth and promote competition”.
SEIPI said that these new investments will create more competition, not just among power plants, but also among fuels. Based on July data from Meralco’s website, natural gas can be a cheaper source of power.
Dan Lachica, SEIPI President, said: “One of the major challenges faced by the electronics industry is the high cost of power, which is the second worst in Asia. The additional 511 MW from these natural gas power plants is a welcome development for our Philippine electronics industry.”
In 2015, the Philippine electronics industry accounted for $28.9 billion, or 49% of our country’s merchandise exports. The industry employs 2.8 million direct and indirect workers.

First Gen clean energy plants can lower consumer electricity bills--group

Posted at Nov 26 2016 02:04 PM

MANILA – Two new plants in Batangas generate clean energy that can lower the bills of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) subscribers and in turn help grow the manufacturing industry, an electronics group said Friday.
Two facilities in Santa Rita, a 414-megawatt (MW) San Gabriel combined-cycle plant and a 97-MW Avion open cycle natural gas-fired plant, were inaugurated by First Gen, a Lopez Group company, earlier this month.
READ: First Gen inaugurates San Gabriel, Avion natural gas plants
First Gen operates the plants through wholly-owned subsidiaries First Natgas Power Corp. for the San Gabriel plant and Prime Meridian Powergen Corp. for the Avion facility.
In a statement, the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries Foundation, Inc. (SEIPI) said the plants provide "much needed additional generating capacity to the Luzon grid." They also will create more competition, "not just among power plants, but also among fuels" as July data from Meralco said that natural gas can be a cheaper source of power, SEIPI said.
"One of the major challenges faced by the electronics industry is the high cost of power, which is the 2nd worst in Asia. The additional 511 MW from these natural gas power plants is a welcome development for our Philippine electronics industry," said SEIPI President Dan Lachica.
First Gen and Meralco are among SEIPI's annual business partners.
In its report for the first semester of 2016, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said that electronic products remained the country’s top export, comprising 50.7 percent of total exports, valued at $13.604 billion.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Transmission biggest hurdle for mine-mouth coal plants

Manila Bulletin
Published November 22, 2016, 10:01 PM
By Myrna M. Velasco

Setting up of transmission facilities to wheel generation output is the major dilemma hobbling development of mine-mouth coal power facilities in the country, according to industry players.

Arnulfo A. Robles, executive director of the Philippine Chamber of Coal Mines, Inc. (Philcoal) noted that given site-specific development nature of mine-mouth plants, setting up of transmission lines has always been a problem because the coal mines are also usually located in remote areas.

“The problem on transmission for mine-mouth plants is just being given focused at this time,” he stressed, adding that they have yet to see that such shall really be integrated into the Transmission Development Plan (TDP) of the energy sector.

Robles emphasized that beyond the transmission of generated electricity, mine-mouth coal plants have some inherent benefits – such as cutting cost on logistics aside from value-added proposition that the country’s lignite coal reserves could be utilized to meet part of its energy requirements.

There are several mine-mouth power facilities that had been cast on blueprint by the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) and the Semirara Mining and Power Corporation – but have been hurdled on development phases due to cost and connection facility concerns.

“For mine-mouth, basically we’re trying to remove the transport cost, because if the plant is separate from the mine site, there’s handling that will add up to the cost of coal… and that basically reduces the cost for coal which is fuel for the power plant,” Robles explained.

The coal chamber executive specified that in the PNOC-EC mine-mouth projects, what transpired were actually “problems on their financial study… and second had been on social acceptability.”

Basically, he noted that in all mine-mouth power projects, financial viability and social issues are the major stumbling blocks – then such shall eventually be factored in into the end-cost of electricity that will be passed on to the consumers.

Former PNOC-EC President Rufino B. Bomasang noted that “only through a mine-mouth power plant that you are able to develop existing low-rank lignites.” Lignite is often referred to as “lowest rank coal” mainly due to their relatively low heat content.

Bomasang reiterated that coal mining in the Philippines will only turn out viable if there are power plants sited proximate to it that will utilize the output.

“Otherwise, if you do not put up these mine-mouth power plants, these available resources will never be developed,” he said.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Coal here to stay, says DOE chief

By: Daxim L. Lucas - Reporter / @daxinqPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 01:20 AM November 17, 2016

PH must balance pressing demands for energy security, environmental sustainability and economic competitiveness

Coal-fired power plants will remain a permanent fixture—despite the strong lobby against them by environmentalists and proponents of other energy sources—because these could help the Philippines rapidly meet its growing energy needs cost-efficiently, the Department of Energy said Wednesday.

At the same time, however, policy makers recognized the legitimate concerns of coal power’s opponents and vowed to balance the concerns of all stakeholders in the country, according to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

“The signs of the times seem to tell us that coal is here to stay,” he said in a speech delivered at the 2016 Coal Business and Policy Forum in Makati City, even as the energy chief stressed that the implementation of coal energy policy “must be done right” to address the criticism being leveled against it.

“One quarter says that ‘clean coal’ is the wave of the future, the game-changer in the coal-fired power industry,” Cusi said. “However, another quarter argues the opposite; that it is not only a total misnomer, but is utterly impossible.”

Data from the Department of Energy showed that coal power provides the single-biggest source of electricity for the country today. As of 2015, 45 percent of the Philippines’ generated electricity came from coal—a sharp rise from the 1-percent share it had when the country first began to use coal as a power source in 1981.

“And with new coal-fired power plants in the offing, the figure is expected to increase, or at the very least, remain so for a considerable period,” Cusi said.

The energy chief noted, however, that the energy and environmental landscape has changed dramatically in the 35 years since coal power was first adopted locally.

“Growing concerns about the environment and climate change have triggered public clamor for clean and sustainable energy. As a dutiful member of the international community, we have pledged to actively contribute to the cause of climate change mitigation,” he said.

“But then again, our country’s social and economic circumstances have also changed,” he added. “We are beset by the twin problems of high electricity costs and a growing demand that far outpaces our generation capacity.”

At the same time, coal prices have gone down on the international market and the bullish expectations in the US of a resurgence of its coal industry due to recent political developments might push prices even lower.

“Because of all these, we ineluctably find ourselves caught between the horns of an ‘energy trilemma’,” Cusi said. “We grapple with the difficult task of trying to find the balance among the equally pressing demands of energy security, environmental sustainability and economic competitiveness.”

A key hurdle for the coal power industry, however, is Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, who has voiced her opposition to what she described as “a form of energy that has no future.”

Coal power is also being opposed by another major player in the industry, First Gen Corp., which is controlled by the Lopez family from which the environment chief hails. First Gen’s largest generation plants are powered by natural gas, which is the closest rival to coal—albeit slightly more expensive—in terms of cost structure.

Cusi said he believed, however, that coal has a role to play in the Philippines’ so-called “energy mix,” especially in providing cheap and reliable baseload power amid the country’s steadily growing electricity needs.

“[This] highlights the importance of a conscious and continuing pursuit of that wholesome balance that we desire: A perfect policy coupled with a sound economic logic,” he said.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

MGen shortlists EPC bidders for Quezon plant

By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Meralco Powergen Corp. (MGen), Manila Electric Co.’s power generating arm, will complete its contractor selection process for its 2x600-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Atimonan, Quezon before the year ends to start construction by mid-2017.
The company has received bids from four potential EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractors for Atimonan One Energy Inc. in late 2015, which has been shortlisted to three, MGen general manager Angelito Lantin said.
“Selection of preferred EPC contractor is targeted in the fourth quarter of 2016,” he said.
MGen is also working on the construction of the resettlement site for affected households after receiving the certificate of land use conversion for the project site in March 2016.
Lantin said the company would complete the construction and hand over the project to affected households in the first quarter 2017 to allow main project construction to proceed on schedule.
He said site preparation is targeted to start in mid-2017. Target completion of the 600-MW Unit 1 is in late 2021.
Full capacity of the Atimonan project will be sold to Meralco under a 20-year power supply agreement signed earlier this year, pending the approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission.
The Atimonan project is one of the coal-fired power plants MGen is working on to meet its 3,000 MW capacity target.
The other plants are the 455-MW San Buenaventura Power Ltd. (SBPL) project in Quezon and the Redondo Peninsula Energy (RP Energy) project in Subic, Zambales.
SBPL is a joint venture of MGen with New Growth B.V., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Thailand’s Energy Generating Co. while RP Energy is a consortium composed of MGen, Aboitiz Power Corp. and Taiwan Cogeneration International Corp.

ERC to give large power users more time to find suppliers under RCOA scheme

Posted on November 03, 2016

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has given consumers with an average monthly peak demand of 1 megawatt (MW) more time, or until Feb. 27, 2017, to secure a supply contract with a retail electricity supplier (RES).

In a yet to be published resolution, the ERC said “the forthcoming December 2016 deadline may no longer be a feasible time frame for contestable customers to prudently negotiate and eventually migrate to the competitive retail electricity market.”

No other dates were changed in the previous Resolution 10, which was issued on May 12, 2016. Dec. 26, 2016 was the previous mandatory date for the 1-MW “contestable customers” or those who are required to leave a distribution utility’s captive market to become power users who actively negotiate retail supply contracts.

The new deadline is the latest development in the ERC’s goal to enforce the rules on retail competition and open access (RCOA), one of the requirements of Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).

With the new date, the 1-MW contestable customer should have entered into a supply contract with a licensed retail electricity supplier 60 days before the new mandatory contestability date. The latest would be around the last week of December 2016.

By that date, the retail supplier should have informed the distribution utility that serves the consumer about the plan to switch as called for under the previous ERC resolution.

The ERC did not immediately respond to a query if the other RCOA deadlines would be affected. Under Resolution 10, consumers with an average monthly peak demand of 750 kilowatts (kW) are mandated to enter into a supply contract by June 26, 2017.

The lowering of the threshold to cover consumers with an average monthly peak demand of 500 kW is by June 26, 2018, but subject to the review of the performance of the retail market by the ERC.

“Corollarily, in its review of the performance of the retail market, the ERC shall establish a set of criteria as basis for the lowering of the contestability threshold,” the regulator previously said.

The ERC also did not change the June 26, 2018 target date for retail aggregation, which would allow suppliers of electricity to contract with end-users whose aggregate demand within a contiguous area is at least 750 kW.

In the new resolution, the regulator said: “During the period from effectivity of the instant Resolution until mandatory contestability, all concerned stakeholders are enjoined to act in accordance with the ERC-issued Code of Conduct for the Competitive Retail Market Participants and to refrain from committing behavior or conduct which is anti-competitive in character. Any party found in violation thereof shall be subject to fines and penalties as the ERC may impose.”

The original Dec. 26, 2016 deadline became unfeasible after Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) filed on May 27, 2016 a petition for declaratory relief with application for temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction against the issuances of the Department of Energy (DoE) and the ERC.

In its filing with Branch No. 157 of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC), the utility assailed Sections 2 and 3, Article 1 of the 2016 Revised Rules Governing the Issuances of Licenses to Retail Electricity Supplier and Prescribing the Requirements and Conditions Therefor; the Revised Rules for Contestability; and, the Resolution Imposing Restrictions on the Operations of Distribution Utilities and Retail Electricity Suppliers in the Competitive Retail Electricity Market.

On July 13, 2016, the Pasig RTC granted a writ of preliminary injunction prohibiting the implementation of the ERC issuances. The ERC questioned the jurisdiction of the Pasig court by filing on July 5, 2016 a petition for certiorari and prohibition before the Supreme Court. The DoE also questioned the Pasig court’s jurisdiction by filing a similar petition with the high court on Sept. 27, 2016.

On Oct. 10, 2016, the Supreme Court acted on the DoE petition and issued a TRO preventing Branch 157 from continuing with the proceedings in Meralco’s Special Civil Action No. 4149-PSG and from enforcing all orders, resolutions and decisions rendered in the said case, effective immediately until the petition is finally resolved.

In its still unnumbered resolution, the ERC said it had received “communications and inquiries from contestable customers and distribution utilities seeking confirmation on the actual implementation of the mandatory contestability.” The resolution takes effect immediately after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation. -- Victor V. Saulon

No nuclear power plant during my watch — Rody

By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Not on my watch. President Duterte does not see the country having a nuclear power plant anytime within his six-year term.
He said the Philippines can still cope with its energy supply despite daily power outages in some areas in the Visayas and Mindanao.
“We’re not yet in the danger zone that we will die if there’s no energy because it runs the machines. But we are not in that danger,” he said.
Duterte said the nuclear power plant may be built someday after his presidency.
“Not right now because we have to come up with safeguards. Really, really tight safeguards to ensure that there will be no disasters if there is a nuclear leak or explosion somewhere in the nuclear reactors that we will build.”
Duterte said Congress and the Filipino people must  study the matter carefully.
“For after all, if there would be leaks, we will all be leaked and it’s our country, remember that,” he said.
Members of Congress visited earlier the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant to assess if the 40-year-old mothballed plant can still be tapped in case the government would shift to nuclear energy.