Groundbreaking rites for 200 MW coal power plant in Maasim set for Nov. 25

GENERAL SANTOS CITY  (MindaNews/12 November) — The groundbreaking rites for the controversial 200 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in nearby Maasim, Sarangani has been set for November 25.

Joseph Nocos, Conal Holdings Corp. vice president, told reporters the groundbreaking for the $450 million coal-fired power plant, which will be pursued by Sarangani Energy Corporation, an affiliate of the Alcantara and Sons (Alsons),  “is a step to making the project a reality.”

“It signals the start of the actual implementation of the project,” he told a press briefing here.

The construction of the first phase, which would generate 100MW, is expected to be completed in 36 months or by 2014, when Mindanao is projected to have a supply shortfall.

The second phase, which would cover the remaining 100 MW, would “follow after an interval of 12 months or a year,” Nocos said, adding the coal needs of the power plant will be imported from Kalimantan in Indonesia.

Conal Holdings is 60% owned by the publicly listed Alsons Consolidated Resources (ACR) and the rest held by the Electricity Generating Public Co. Ltd. (EGCO), Thailand’s largest power producer.

The firm is owned by the Alcantara family.  Sarangani Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez, whose mother is an Alcantara, has thrown his support to the coal power plant project, earlier noting that this could be a “magnet of investment” for other industries in the area.

Nocos said that EGCO and Toyota Tsusho are among the foreign companies that are eyeing direct investment in Sarangani Energy.

Expected to grace the groundbreaking are top Alsons executives and also Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Nocos said.

Tomas I. Alcantara, ACR chairman and president, announced their plan to build a 200-MW coal-fired power plant in Maasim town during the 16th Mindanao Business Conference here in September 2007.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources gave the environmental compliance certificate to the coal-fired power project in 2009.

The project is being opposed by the local Catholic Church and environmental groups such as Greenpeace, citing among others, pollution.

The coal plant will be built near a world-class diving site in the locality that has gained the admiration of both local and foreign scuba diving aficionados.

Several months ago, company officials announced that a power supply agreement with the South Cotabato Electric Cooperative 2 (SOCOTECO-2) has been reached.

Nocos said the Energy Regulatory Commission will make a final decision on the agreement following a public hearing on the coal-fired power project on December 7 and 8.

Under the power supply deal, Sarangani Energy will provide a dedicated supply of 70-MW to the SOCOTECO-2, which serves this city, the whole of Sarangani and parts of South Cotabato.

According to the Department of Energy, Sarangani Energy was given endorsement to acquire, design, construct, erect, assemble, rehabilitate, expand, commission, operate, and maintain power-generating plants and related facilities for the generation of electricity, including facilities to purchase, manufacture, develop or process fuel for the generation of such electricity; to sell electricity to any person or entity through electricity markets, by trading, or by contract; to administer, conserve and manage the electricity generated by power-generating plants, owned by the corporation or by a third party; to invest in or acquire corporations or entities engaged in any of the foregoing activities. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)