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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AN independent power producer in Iloilo City is reaching out to prospective investors in the metropolis to address their projected energy requirement.

Engr. Henry Alcalde, project manager of the 164-megawatt coal-fired power plant of Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC), said they expect the demand in Panay to increase once their new plant operates next year.

“If you lower the cost of power, you encourage consumption. Lower prices will also attract businesses in our area. And once these investors come in, they will gradually use up the capacities of the new coal-fired power plant and the diesel plant. How fast this demand will be, we don’t know. But once the demand gets higher than our capacity, we will try to address that,” Alcalde said.

The coal-fired power plant will be operated by the Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC), a subsidiary of GBPC under the Metrobank Group. It is expected to go online in the last quarter of 2010.

The construction of the coal-fired power plant has resulted in renewed interests by investors to enter Iloilo City, particularly business processes outsourcing (BPO) firms.

A major investor expected to do business in the city is giant land developer Megaworld which bought the old Iloilo airport lot in Mandurriao district for P1.2 billion.

Megaworld is planning to develop the 54.5-hectare lot into a new business district with facilities such as hotels, convention center and BPO offices.

Industry sources said Megaworld would require around 20MW of power for its initial operations which is estimated to cost P1.5 billion.

Recently, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), which handles the transmission side of the energy sector, made a positive projection on the energy needs in the Visayas grid.

Without factoring in the projected huge power demand from new growth areas such as the 300-hectare South Road Properties in Cebu City and the 54-hectare Megaworld property in Iloilo City, the NGCP said the next round of power supply problems in Cebu, Negros and Panay would be felt in 2018.

Alcalde said NGCP’s projections somehow jives with their own forecast, with Iloilo City suffering a 4-MW shortfall by 2014 on an annual demand growth of 3%. This does not include Megaworld’s demand. 

Engr. Gil Altamira, GBPC commercial manager, said they are reaching out to Megaworld to find out how much power they will need.

“Power plants don’t just pop up like mushrooms. We have to know the needs of the consumers so we can plan ahead of time, whether Engr. Alcalde will put up another unit.” Altamira said.

In Negros and Panay, load growth averaged 6.1% and 5.9%, respectively, this year. Panay’s load grew nearly 50% in 2007 only because the Panay Electric Co., Inc., sole electricity distributor in Iloilo City, was synchronized to the grid that year.

Growing demand has used up power reserves in the grid, leaving Cebu, Negros and Panay vulnerable to outages whenever a plant breaks down. Rotating brownouts have been the norm in these islands since summer.

Cebu’s actual peak demand this year reached 577 MW, while those of Negros and Panay hit 226 MW and 221 MW, respectively. Including Bohol and Leyte-Samar islands, the Visayas’ actual peak demand this year reached about 1,300 MW.

The Cebu-Negros-Panay grid gets 360 MW from the geothermal fields in Leyte, boosting total dependable capacity in the Visayas to 1,466 MW. Of the 360 MW, 200 MW goes to Cebu first and the balance is divided between Negros and Panay.

Cebu, Negros and Panay are expected to continue to experience power shortage until the first quarter of 2010, when the first of three 82-MW coal plants that Cebu Energy is building in Toledo City comes onstream.  (With reports from BusinessWorld)

July 2020

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