Wednesday, May 3, 2017

2 co-ops question ERC chief’s renewal of power contracts

By: Marlon Ramos - 01:30 AM May 03, 2017

Two electric cooperatives in Mindanao have questioned the orders of embattled Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chair Jose Vicente Salazar extending their respective contracts with a power generator without their knowledge.
In separate letters, Lanao del Norte Electric Cooperative Inc. (Laneco) and Davao Oriental Electric Cooperative Inc. (Doreco) informed Salazar that they did not sign any contracts renewing their power purchase agreement (PPA) with FDC Misamis Power Corp.
Interestingly, Salazar approved the renewal of five purchase agreements just three days after FDC filed its petition on Jan. 23.
Besides the power supply deals with Doreco and Laneco, Salazar also granted the extension of FDC’s contracts with South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative Inc., Misamis Occidental II Electric Cooperative Inc. and Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative Inc.
Doreco said it was unaware that FDC had asked the ERC to renew their agreement with the same electricity rates when the two parties signed the deal in April 2015.
“We respectfully manifest to the honorable commission that Laneco was not made aware of the filing of the manifestation. Laneco’s receipt… of the electronic copy of the order… came as a surprise,” Doreco said in its Feb. 10 letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer on Tuesday.
Moreover, it said it informed FDC as early as Oct. 13, 2016, or more than two months before the deal’s expiry, that it was not interested in renewing the agreement.
In its letter to Salazar, Doreco said: “At the onset, it should be noted that Doreco was not joined by FDC Misamis in the filing of the manifestation… and in fact, it was unaware thereof.”
A senior ERC official, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal from Salazar, said the ERC chair arbitrarily approved the extension of the deals without the consent of the four other ERC commissioners.
“That has been Salazar’s policy since he became the ERC chair. He made many decisions and resolutions on his own, bypassing the authority of the entire commission and its members,” the official said.
In five separate orders dated Jan. 26, Salazar said the electric cooperatives “may continue to draw power from FDC Misamis during the extended period.”
Salazar, a former justice undersecretary, has been under fire since the tragic death of ERC

Semirara to invest P5 B to hike capacity, sees higher earnings

Published May 2, 2017, 10:01 PM By James A. Loyola

Semirara Mining and Power Corporation is investing P5 billion for infrastructure and heavy equipment with the aim of increasing its mine capacity to 16 million metric tons a year by 2018 from 12 million MT.
In an interview after the firm’s annual stockholders’ meeting, Semirara President Victor Consunji said they are boosting capacity as they are optimistic that the demand for coal will continue to grow in the coming years.
“As of now, we have already maxxed out the capacity of our existing equipment and infrastructure. We need to build more storage, lay out more conveyor belts, and buy more mining equipment,” said Semirara Chairman Isidro Consunji.
SMPC is spending P2 billion for additional infrastructure to expand its port facilities as well as for additional conveyor lines, and another P3 billion next year to acquire additional mining equipment such as trucks and extractors, said Semirara Chief Finance Officer Junalina Tabor.
Consunji said they have already taken steps to expand capacity and have already increased it to the current 13 million MT and may soon be able to increase the mine’s output to 14 million MT.
“We’re aiming at 14 million MT. (But) if we do 13 million we should be happy because the weather is a little bit wet,” he added.
Meanwhile, Consunji said earnings this year should be better than last year as indicated by the firms’ performance in the first quarter as well as part of the second quarter.
He explained that growth will come from the higher output of coal, higher volume of electricity produced by with the full operation of its four power plants, as well as the unexpected hike in coal prices.

Mining contractors must comply with PH-EITI disclosure requirements

Published May 2, 2017, 10:01 PM By Madelaine B. Miraflor

All mining contractors are now mandated to comply with the disclosure requirements of the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI), a statement from Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said.
According to MGB, Environment Chief Gina Lopez signed the Administrative Order No. 2017-07 requiring all mining contractors to take part in PH-EITI in accordance with the requirements set by Philippines Multi-stakeholders Group.
According to the Order, if the mining contractor fails to comply with the disclosure requirements of the PH-EITI, their Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC)s will be suspended and they will not be issued Ore Transport Permits and Mineral Export Permits.
“The certificates and permits will remain cancelled until the mining companies are able to comply with the PH-EITI requirements,” MGB noted.
The MGB and the Environmental Management Bureau are also directed to disclose all information requested by the PH-EITI in a timely manner.
Administrative Order 2017-07 was signed on March 10, 2017 and shall take effect immediately upon publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
According to the PH-EITI website, the EITI is an “international multi-stakeholder group that sets international standards for transparency in extractive industry payments and receipts, where companies are required to publish what they pay to governments and governments are required to publish what they receive from companies.”
The PH-EITI Multi-Stakeholder Group (PHEITI MSG) is a group that provides a platform for business and civil society stakeholders to engage government in the implementation of EITI in the Philippines.
On an unrelated development, MGB recently established an open data and web-based Legal Information System (LegIS), which will provide the public with an updated and accurate information on the status and rulings from both the quasi-judicial bodies in the DENR and MGB.
Aimed at making vital legal-related information available to ordinary people and employees, the system will soon be on-line this year.
The project development and the implementation of the system was approved under Tier 2 for in-house development under the three-year MGB Information Systems Strategic Plan (ISSP) covering the period January 2015 to December 2017.