Gensan tuna canners welcome power plant

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/6 Sep) – Tuna canners here said the planned construction of a coal-fired power plant in nearby Maasim town in Sarangani will help them save on power bills if electricity costs will be cut down as announced by officials of Conal Holdings Corporation. The proposed project will also reportedly solve unreliable power supply and will cut on maintenance costs for the city’s tuna canning plants, according to industry insiders.
Ric Magnayon, general manager of Century Canning Corporation, said the usual problem tuna canning plants are facing is the quality of power supply. “Always fluctuating,” he said.

Lesser power interruption and quality power supply, he said, would mean lesser maintenance and repair costs on their part.

Century Canning is the largest of six canning plants operating in General Santos City, the country’s tuna capital.

Conal Holdings is going to begin constructing its 200-megawatt coal-fired power plant early next year to address looming power shortage in Mindanao in the next couple of years.

Officials of the said power company said consumers of South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) would save on electricity bills when their project goes on commercial stream in late 2012.

Joseph Nocos, Conal Holdings Corporation vice president for business development, earlier said by eliminating transmission costs, individual as well as industrial consumers being serviced by Socoteco II will save as much as P1 per kilowatt hour.

By having a generating plant in the Socsksargen area, Nocos added, consumers will also be guaranteed reliable and steady power supply.

At present Socoteco II buys its power supply requirements from the National Power Corporation (Napocor) which charges their clients P1.42 transmission cost per kilowatt hour on the average.

The bulk of Napocor’s generating capacity is in Northern Mindanao, creating problems in supply reliability in Southern Mindanao.

Magnayon said Century Canning is paying more or less P2 million a year in electricity costs despite having their own coal-fired boilers.

He said any savings from overhead costs, especially power bills, would be a welcome relief.

Marfenio Tan, president of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries (SFFAI), said even if it would cost more, the tuna industry will be hard pressed to buy power to sustain the tuna industry.

SFFAI, along with the chambers of commerce in General Santos and Sarangani, has already expressed support to the Alcantara-led power plant project.

Tan is also a member of the board of directors of Socoteco II, which early this year signed a memorandum of agreement with Conal Holdings for the purchase of power.

Records obtained from Socoteco II revealed that the electric cooperative sold 463,602,491 kilowatt hours of electricity to its 114,634 customers in 2007 alone.

Socoteco II covers the entire Sarangani province, General Santos and the towns of Polomolok and Tupi in South Cotabato. (Edwin G. Espejo / MindaNews contributor)