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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

POWER supply is one of the major reasons why Transcom, a European business processes outsourcing (BPO) firm, decided to open shop in Iloilo City.

Duncan H. Cowie, Transcom vice president and regional manager for North America and Asia Pacific, said electricity was a key factor in their decision to locate their fifth Philippine site in Iloilo City.

“I consider power as a critical element of our business. And with power you have networks and the other elements that supply your infrastructure. I’m very excited that Iloilo has a new power plant coming on soon. Did that (power plant) make a difference in our decision? Absolutely. It’s very important to us. It’s so important to have security of supply because my clients don’t really mind what’s happening where we are. They only want to know we keep working,” Cowie said.

Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC) is putting up a 164-megawatt coal-fired power plant at Brgy. Ingore, LaPaz, Iloilo City to address the power shortage not only in the city but in Western Visayas as well.

The power plant, which is expected to go online next year, will be operated by the Panay Energy Development Corp. under the GBPC umbrella and supply electricity to Region 6.

Cowie said they will initially employ more than 800 Ilonggos when they open next month.

“We plan to increase that capacity by 50% in the next six months. By March 2010, we expect to employ around 1,500 people and will increase to 2,000 by end of next year,” Cowie said.

Transcom will be located at the Amigo Plaza Mall on Iznart Street in downtown Iloilo City. The building has been accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to host BPO firms.

Cowie said the manpower potentials attracted Transcom to locate its fifth center in Iloilo City after Metro Manila and Bacolod City.

“We are not attracted by facilities or regions. We’re attracted by the people, the individuals,” Cowie said.

Cowie said they began hiring and training employees more than a month ago.

Chris Mason, Transcom vice president for implementation and solutions, said they were did not meet any difficulty in hiring employees, particularly for the management level posts.

Mason said the hiring rate in Metro Manila is 20-25% but in Iloilo it ranges from 40-45%.

“Your hiring rate in Iloilo is double the national rate which speaks a lot of your manpower potentials here. Hiring management level officers is usually the hardest process but here in Iloilo, we did not find it hard to get the people we need. It’s primarily because of the numerous universities in Iloilo,” Mason said.

As regards Transcom expansion, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he has been talking with several businessmen who are interested in putting up buildings for new and expanding BPO firms.

Cowie said North America and Asia Pacific are the fastest growing areas among Transcom’s five regional operation areas at 50% annually.

“Transcom’s global growth is around 20%. In North America and Asia, the fastest growing country is the Philippines. Our growth rate in Asia is more than 100% yearly. Two years ago, we only had 800 employees in the Philippines. This year, we already have more than 6,000 employees,” Cowie said.

Transcom’s main business areas are customer care, sales and support, credit management and additional customer related services. It also provides CRM consulting, translation and interpretation, and legal services. Its expertise is in a wide range of industry sectors including telecommunications, the financial industry, travel & leisure, utilities and retail/consumer goods. It has 75 sites in 29 countries worldwide.

Iloilo City at night. (Photo by Tara Yap)

Iloilo City at night. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO City and the rest of Panay Island are facing another debacle in the worsening power problems of the region.

 

Energy industry sources said SPC Power Corp., which bought the 146.5-megawatt Panay Diesel Power Plant (PDPP) operated by the National Power Corp. (Napocor) at Brgy. Tinocuan, Dingle, Iloilo, is hesitant to operate the plant because of the price of electricity.

 

The problem surfaced during the meeting Saturday of power industry stakeholders in Panay initiated by Dr. Raul Banias, presidential assistant for Western Visayas.

 

Banias said SPC will negotiate with electric cooperatives in Panay regarding the new price of electricity once the firm takes over PDPP operations March 25 from Napocor.

 

“As a merchant power producer, SPC will not be able to sell power at subsidized rates which Napocor offered to cooperatives. SPC will have to negotiate with the cooperatives regarding the price after the turnover of PDPP. The cooperatives will agree with Salcon’s price, well and good. If they cannot agree on the terms, SPC will not operate the plant and we will have bigger problems,” Banias said.

 

NPC sells electricity to cooperatives at around P2.80 per kilowatt-hour, which is cheap for power produced by a diesel-fired plant because of government subsidy.

 

Prevailing industry rates peg electricity from diesel-fired power plants at P8 to P9 per kWh depending on the fluctuations of oil prices in the world market and the peso-dollar exchange rate.

 

Engr. Edgar Mana-ay, who worked in the energy sector for more than 20 years, doubts if SPC will operate if the firm follows NPC’s subsidized rates.

 

“If the price is doubled or tripled up to P9 per kWh, maybe they (SPC) will continue the operation of the dingle diesel plant,” Mana-ay said.

 

If SPC does not run PDPP, Banias said Panay Island will lose some 50-60 megawatts of power, compounding the power woes of the island which is already reeling from 9-hour rotating brownouts.

 

The dilemma will trickle down to Iloilo City which draws 15MW from Napocor through its interconnection with Panay Electric Co. (Peco), the sole power distributor in the metropolis.

 

Mayor Jerry Treñas said Peco is only getting 8MW out of the 15MW it contracted from Napocor.

 

Iloilo City’s main source of power is Panay Power Corp. (PPC) whose mother company, Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC), plans to construct a 164-MW coal-fired power plant.

 

“As we all know, demand for power in Iloilo City increases during summer season. It’s a critical period for the city. If there are problems with GBPC’s plants, where shall we get power when PDPP is not running?” Banias said

 

Banias said they came up immediate solutions to SPC’s problems but he doubts if these are feasible.

 

“One, we can opt to delay the turnover of PDPP to SPC but this is not possible. Another option is to transfer Power Barge 104 from Davao City but residents and politicians there will certainly object,” he added.

 

Another solution is the deployment of 15 units of generator sets in Iloilo City which Napocor promised to Mayor Treñas.

 

Treñas will ask President Gloria Arroyo to expedite the transfer of the gen-sets, which have a total capacity of 15MW, and avert a power shortage in the metropolis.

 

The President will arrive in Iloilo City today to inaugurate the expansion of a call center.

 

Atty. Dennis Ventilacion, president of Iloilo Electric Cooperative-2, said their power purchase contracts with Napocor are good until December 2010.

 

Ventilacion said they expect SPC to assume Napocor’s contracts with the cooperatives “but the price would reflect the true cost of power.”

 

“We expect electricity rates to increase once SPC takes over PDPP operations. Another problem is when SPC withdraws some of the plant’s capacity from the market because SPC might not rehabilitate some of the engines for economic reasons,” Ventilacion said.

 

SPC Power Corp. (SPC), formerly Salcon Power Corp., won the bidding for the 146.5-megawatt (MW) Panay and 22-MW Bohol diesel power plants November 12, 2008.

 

The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) said SPC outbid two other firms after submitting the highest offer of $5.86 million for the two plants.

 

PSALM oversees the sale of government’s power assets which is mandated by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

 

The other bidders for PDPP and Bohol plant were Therma Power-Visayas, a Philippine corporation owned by Aboitiz Power Corp., and Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. of Philippine Investment Management Inc. (Phinma).

 

Organized in 1994, SPC also won the contract for Napocor’s 203.8-MW Naga power plant complex in Cebu under a rehabilitation, operation, maintenance and management (ROMM) agreement.

July 2020
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