GenSan wants renewable energy investments

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 July)– The city government is pushing for the entry of investments on renewable energy projects to help stabilize the area’s power supply condition.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said several investors have already signified interest to put up major power projects in the city to help address its rising power requirement.

He did not specify the type of power projects that were initially proposed to the local government but said they are leaning towards clean or renewable energy.

“We are (continuously) looking for other resources that could be put up here in the city, especially renewable energy, and there are some investors who have indicated that they want to come in,” the mayor said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.

The mayor said he met with officials of the South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) on Wednesday to discuss the power projects that are appropriate for the area.

He cited that the city government wants to make sure that Socoteco II is properly consulted when it comes to power projects as it would eventually act as their “proponent.”

Rivera said Socoteco officials assured him that the city’s power supplies are currently stable and sufficient.

“But we just want to make sure that we will have enough reserves to avoid another series of long brownouts,” he said.

Socoteco II signed in late May a power sales agreement with Miami-based power provider SoEnergy International for the augmentation of the area’s power supplies using diesel-fed modular generator units.

The two-year deal specifically provides for the operationalization of the modular generator sets and the provision of 15 megawatts (MW) of embedded power supply to the electric cooperative.

The generator sets were already installed in a property owned by Socoteco II in Barangay Apopong and is only waiting for the go-signal of the Energy Regulatory Commission so it can start operating.

In February, Socoteco II entered into a build-operate-transfer (BOT) deal with A Brown Co. Inc. (ABCI) for a 20.9 MW bunker-fired power plant in the city.

Under the agreement, ABCI’s wholly owned subsidiary Peak Power Energy Inc. will build, operate, maintain and transfer a bunker-fired power plant in the franchise area of Socoteco II over an undisclosed period.

Socoteco II signed the power deals to offset the area’s power supply shortage, which earlier resulted to daily rotating brownouts stretching seven hours.

The electric cooperative serves this city, the entire Sarangani province and the municipalities of Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato.

From a daily average peak power demand of 112 MW in April, the area’s power requirement rose to around 119 MW last June due to the opening of several establishments, among them a four-star hotel and a shopping mall extension.

Rodolfo Ocat, Socoteco II general manager, said their projection showed that the area’s power demand might reach 122 MW by yearend.

Aside from its contracted supplies from the National Power Corp. (NPC), Socoteco II draws 30 MW of power from Therma Marine Inc. and another 30 MW from the Mapalad Power Corporation.

But on Tuesday, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla warned that parts of Mindanao will experience rotating power outages anew starting August until the end of the year due to the scheduled maintenance shutdown of several power plants.

Petilla said these include the STEAG State Power Inc. in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental and the Agus and Pulangi hydropower plants of the NPC in Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte.

Rivera said the local government has created a technical working group (TWG) that will address concerns regarding the city’s power supplies.

The TWG is composed of the city planning and development office, city engineer’s office, city economic management and cooperatives development office and the office of the city administrator. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)