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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Regional Development Council (RDC) in Western Visayas will take its chances in requesting the transfer of the 32-megawatt Power Barge 104 from Davao to Panay.

 

The RDC passed last week in Bacolod City a resolution urging President Gloria Arroyo to order the transfer of PB 104 to Panay to ease the acute power shortage in the island.

 

Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias confirmed the passage of the RDC resolution which will be endorsed to the Department of Energy.

 

But Banias had earlier said Davao will oppose the transfer of PB 104 to other areas “because they need it for their reserves.”

 

Data from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines showed that Panay has a peak demand of 210MW but its supply is only 128MW or a shortage of 82MW.

 

The island draws power from the Cebu-Negros-Panay grid, Panay Power Corp. (PPC), 15MW modular generator sets in Capiz and two power barges stationed in the city and province of Iloilo.

 

Power supply in Panay was imperiled by the turnover of the Panay Diesel Power Plant (PDPP) in Iloilo to its new owner SPC Island Power Corp.

 

Power utilities raised fears of losing some 50MW if SPC does not operate the power plant because of needed rehabilitation works and lack of supply agreement contracts with electric cooperatives.

 

The problem was remedied when the Department of Energy agreed to subsidize the operation of PDPP for five months until SPC has signed supply contracts with Panay utilities.

 

Singapore-based SPC bought PDPP and the Bohol Diesel Power Plant for US$5.7 million last year. The plants were turned over to the company March 25.

 

Officials of distribution utilities and electric cooperatives said new power plants are needed to stabilize the energy situation of the island.

 

Engr. Randy Pastolero, special assistant to Panay Electric Co. (Peco) president and CEO Miguel Cacho, said the 164MW coal-fired power plant proposed by Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC) in LaPaz district will help stabilize power supply in Iloilo City and the rest of the province.

 

Peco is the sole power distributor in Iloilo City which has a peak demand of 75MW daily.

 

GBPC operates PPC which supplies 61MW to Iloilo City. The rest of the city’s energy requirement comes from the National Power Corp.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHERE are the greens?

 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas yesterday hit some environmental activists who claimed that there is no power supply shortage in the city and the rest of Panay.

 

Treñas was reacting to the formal turnover of Panay Diesel Power Plant (PDPP) to SPC Power Corp. March 25.

 

SPC took ownership of the Panay and Bohol Diesel Power Plants after paying US$5.77 million to the national government.

 

The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) received the payment for the 146-megawatt (MW) Panay and 22-MW Bohol diesel power plants in a turnover ceremony at the Psalm office.

 

The Panay plant is located in Dingle, Iloilo and composed of PDPP 1 and PDPP 3, formerly the Pinamucan diesel power plant which was transferred from Batangas to augment power supply in Panay.

 

The turnover of PDPP to SPC caused uproar among electric cooperative officials who raised fears that SPC might not operate PDPP because it will not supply power at subsidized rates offered by the government.

 

It was also learned that the power supply contract of the National Power Corp., (NPC) the former owner of PDPP, and the electric cooperatives was not included in the sale. SPC also does not have transition supply agreements with Panay electric cooperatives. 

 

SPC is also planning to rehabilitate PDPP before resuming operations.  SPC president Dennis T. Villareal said they will improve the Panay and Bohol plants and triple their capacities at a cost of P100 million to P200 million.

 

National officials later decided to let PDPP run provided NPC will provide fuel subsidy to avert more massive power outages in Panay. This setup, however, is seen as a mockery of the privatization effort of the energy sector.

 

Treñas said the debacle caused by PDPP privatization reinforced previous forecasts by energy officials that Panay will suffer from acute power shortage if no new power plants are built.

 

“We have foreseen this before and we are now feeling its effects already. Don’t we have friends who said there is no power shortage? Where are they now?” Treñas said at the sidelines of the Western Visayas Regional Planning Summit at Iloilo Grand Hotel Thursday morning.

 

Treñas is also ambivalent about the proposed Visayas Supply Augmentation Auction (VSAA) program of the Department of Energy (DoE).

 

The NPC subsidy of PDPP operations will last until VSAA, which will tap embedded power capacities in the region, kicks in.

 

“When will VSAA kick in? They are saying there is 25MW capacity in Visayas. The DoE should point the players who have such capacities,” the mayor added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

POWER generators in Cebu and other parts of Visayas will share their excess electricity to Panay to ease the tight power supply situation of the island.

 

This is the primary purpose of the power supply augmentation program being prepared by the Department of Energy (DoE) to address the power shortage in Panay, according to DoE Undersecretary Roy Kyamco.

 

Kyamco was in Iloilo City Thursday to present the DoE report during the Economic Briefing mounted by the Investor Relations Office of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas at Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center.

 

Kyamco said the augmentation program is being prepared by the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC).

 

PEMC is the autonomous group market operator (AGMO) that shall undertake the preparatory work and initial operation of the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM). Its primary purpose is to establish, maintain, operate and govern an efficient, competitive, transparent and reliable market for the wholesale purchase of electricity and ancillary services in the Philippines

 

Under the said program, Kyamco said power generators in Cebu and other areas will be allowed to share their excess electricity to Panay during peak hours.

 

“The PEMC is working on the details of the program, particularly the power producers that will join, the amount of power they can share and the time when the excess electricity are available. But you will have to pay for the power given you. The program will be completed by end of April,” Kyamco said.

 

The DoE official said that aside from base-load power generators, sugar centrals in Negros Island are also willing to share their excess electricity to Panay.

 

Kyamco even cited the case of Cebu when it was saddled with short power supply.

 

“Private businesses used their own generators so that households could use electricity from the plants. You can just imagine the sacrifice of the business sector,” he added.

 

Panay’s power situation became more precarious because of the perceived uncertainty of SPC Power Corp. to operate the Panay Diesel-fired Power Plant (PDPP) come March 26.

 

SPC, according to energy industry sources, indicated that it will only supply power to Panay cooperatives if they agree to pay the real cost of electricity which is more expensive than the subsidized rates of the National Power Corp.

 

SPC will have to set its own rates to recoup its investments in PDPP.

 

But Kyamco said Ilonggos should not be apprehensive about the looming turnover “because the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will make sure that prices of electricity here will be reasonable.”

 

“Don’t be apprehensive. Think positive. Let us wait for the ERC to decide on this,” said the former military general-turned-bureaucrat.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

JARO Archbishop Angel Lagdameo has joined the crusade against the expansion of the geothermal power plant in Negros Occidental.

According to a Green Alert press report, Lagdameo has signed a campaign sheet calling to save the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park from the geothermal expansion project of the Energy Development Corp. (EDC).

The EDC decided to expand the Northern Negros Geothermal Production Field (NNGPF) into the Mt. Kanlaon buffer zone to look for more sources of steam.

The NNGPF, which has a production capacity of 49 MW and was commissioned by the then Philippine National Oil Co.-EDC in February 2007, has been shut down since last week of May due to insufficient steam production. It can only deliver 4-5MW which affected the power supply of Negros and Panay Islands resulting in rotating brownouts.

When EDC announced its expansion project, local environment groups Green Alert-Negros and Save Mt. Kanlaon Coalition and Catholic church leaders headed by Bacolod Bishop Vicente M. Navarra voiced their opposition.

The Save Mt. Kanlaon Coalition, through counsels Andrea Si and Andres Hagad, have filed a complaint with the Bacolod City Regional Trial Court Branch 44 against the EDC, members of the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park Protected Area Management Board, Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes, Environment Secretary Jose L. Atienza Jr., Negros Occidental Governor Isidro P. Zayco, Bago Mayor Ramon D. Torres and Murcia Mayor Esteban H. Coscolluela to stop the entry of EDC into the buffer zone.

Lagdameo’s move against the EDC expansion project, however, contravenes his earlier statement of support for efforts to tap renewable sources of energy such as geothermal power plants.

Lagdameo has used the renewable energy rhetoric in opposing the establishment of coal-fired power plants in the region.

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