By Manuel Cayon - August 7, 2017
DAVAO CITY—The Aboitiz Power Corp. is asking the government to consider the rehabilitation of the six aging hydroelectric plants along the Agus River in the Lanao provinces, citing excess power as the reason to give the plants their needed respite.
Antonio Moraza, president and COO of Aboitiz Power, told business leaders in an investment conference in Davao City recently that “with a huge surplus of power in Mindanao, the government can now consider a major rehabilitation of the decades-old Agus hydroelectric power plants”.
“The Agus hydroelectric power plants are generating an installed capacity of 727 megawatts [MW] of renewable energy. It currently has a dependable capacity of around 400 MW, according to the Mindanao Development Authority,” the company said in a statement.
The hydroelectric power-plant units were constructed as early as the 1950s and, for several years, especially during the recurring energy crisis in the last decade, government and business leaders have called on the repair of the plants to keep them running.
“With all the supply coming into Mindanao today, it may be time for the government to finally decide on the fate of the Agus complex. Perhaps, it is time for these old power plants to be rehabilitated,” Moraza said during the Davao Investment Conference held on July 21 and 22 here.
He added with the entry of new power plants into the Mindanao grid, “the perennial problem of Mindanao power shortage is gone”.
He said the island “must now take advantage of its energy surplus to spur the economy”.
“Now that power supply is no longer an issue, it can be said Mindanao is truly open for business,” Moraza added.
He said, though, that sufficient power supply “is not the only factor that will bring investments to Mindanao.”
He also cited the peace and order, and eradicating corruption and red tape, as contributing to attract investment.
He said the rehabilitation of the Agus plants may not only optimize its capacity but may also increase it further. Moraza cited the case of the rehabilitation of the Ambuklao hydroelectric power plant in Ifugao. It was a facility built in 1956 and abandoned by government after the 1990 earthquake in Baguio.
“We took over Ambuklao in 2008. We invested resources, brought in experts and worked with government to make the plant run again. In 2011 we not only brought back the plant but also increased its installed capacity from 70 MW to 105 MW. With the same amount of water, energy produced has increased by 50 percent,” Moraza said.
He added studies would have to be made to determine how the proposed Agus rehabilitation be done, and by whom.
But Aboitiz Power hinted it could undertake the rehabilitation, saying it has almost a “century-old foothold” in the power sector in Mindanao.
The company invested in power in Mindanao since the early 1900s when it first acquired Jolo Power Co. Later on, Aboitiz Power expanded through distribution utilities Davao Light and Cotabato Light, which now serve the two of the fastest-growing regions in Mindanao.
Today the Aboitiz Group “continues to pour investments in Mindanao through its holding company Aboitiz Equity Ventures [AEV]”.
Aside from electricity generation, it has also Pilmico, the company’s food subsidiary producing flour and feeds in the Visayas and Mindanao. It has banking arms, Union Bank of the Philippinesand City Savings Bank, which provide financial services to customers all over the island.
AEV has a new subsidiary, the Apo Agua Infrastructura Inc., in partnership with the Davao City Water District. Aboitiz Power said this company would soon begin the construction of its bulk-water facility to address the watersupply problems in Davao City.
AEV is planning to expand its real-estate arm AboitizLand in Mindanao, while the Aboitiz Construction Group would continue “to build projects in the region to support the region’s continuous economic growth and development”.
“There are many challenges ahead for business in Mindanao to flourish,” Moraza said. “With all of us working together, we can all finally translate Mindanao’s promise into reality.”