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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A CONSORTIUM of electric cooperatives in Panay Island will begin negotiations with an independent power producer to purchase electricity from a 164-megawatt coal-fired power plant based in Iloilo City.

The negotiation kicked off with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the Panay Power Supply Consortium (PPSC) and Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC).

PEDC, a subsidiary of Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC) under the Metrobank group, will operate the coal-fired power plant being constructed at Brgy. Ingore in LaPaz, Iloilo City.

The PPSC is composed of Aklan Electric Cooperative, Antique Electric Cooperative, Capiz Electric Cooperative and Iloilo Electric Cooperatives (Ileco) 1, 2 and 3.

The negotiation is seen to culminate in a 25-year electric power purchase agreement (EPPA) between PEDC and PPSC member cooperatives.

Adrian Moncada, GBPC assistant vice president for commercial operations, said once they have concluded the negotiations, the EPPA will be submitted to the Energy Regulatory Commission for approval.

The PPSC was conceptualized in 2008 to address the worsening electricity shortage in Panay.

The looming expiration of the cooperatives’ power supply contracts with the National Power Corp., which is presently being privatized, in 2010 also prompted PPSC to look for potential suppliers.

The coal-fired power plant is expected to be operational in the last quarter of 2010. It is composed of two units each with a capacity to generate 82MW. The plant has a net production of 144MW

Engr. Wilfred Billena, Ileco 1 general manager and PPSC president, said they bidded out a total of 72MW for their power requirements starting 2011.

A total of 36MW was awarded to two renewable energy companies – Global Green Power and Asea One – while the remaining 36MW was awarded to GBPC.

GBPC has set aside 72MW, or 75% of the coal-fired power plant’s net generation for Iloilo City’s electricity needs.

The remaining 36MW of the coal plant will be allocated to 5 electric cooperatives in Negros Occidental and Oriental.

Engr. Gil Altamira, GBPC commercial operations manager, said their price per kilowatt-hour will be lower than the ERC-approved rate of P4.30/kWh in the EPPA between Central Negros Cooperative (Ceneco) and Korean Electric Power Corp., (Kepco) which will also operate a coal-fired power plant in Cebu.

“We will try to reduce our price from that of the Ceneco-Kepco deal. The advantage of the GBPC-PEDC plant is that it is embedded in Panay Island which could save us from additional transmission cost,” Altamira said.

Billena said their contract with GBPC and other suppliers might not be enough because of their unpredictable consumer growth.

“Our consumption is pegged at 30MW but sometimes we are surprised because we hit 32MW on certain days. The supply instability in the Visayas grid makes it hard for us to predict our growth. When these new capacities operate, we expect our connections to increase. Apparently, the supply that we are about to contract might not be enough,” Billena said.

Billena said an embedded power plant in Panay is advantageous compared to sources outside the island because it is “more stable and cooperatives here will be given priority.”

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