ERC to conduct public hearing on Socoteco II’s proposed use of gensets

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 23 Oct) – The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will conduct a public hearing here next week to consult local residents on a proposed power sales deal earlier forged by distribution utility South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative for the use of modular generator sets to help ease the area’s continuing power shortage.

Rodolfo Ocat, Socoteco II general manager, said the public hearing on Oct. 30 will mainly determine whether it could proceed by next month with the streaming of the 15-megawatt (MW) diesel-fed modular generator sets that it leased from power producer SoEnergy Philippines.

“We’re hoping to get an early approval from the ERC so we can already start using the generator sets,” he said.

Ocat said they have invited representatives of various sectors within its franchise area to attend the consultation.

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

During the hearing, Ocat said local consumers will be consulted on the provisions of the power sales agreement (PSA) signed by Socoteco II with SoEnergy.

He said consumers may raise their questions, clarifications and other sentiments regarding the deal with the ERC and the PSA proponents.

“We don’t expect much opposition regarding the PSA considering that we really need the services now of SoEnergy,” Ocat said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.

The ERC set the public hearing based on an application filed by Socoteco II last August 28 for the approval of the PSA “with prayer for provisional authority.”

The application pertains to the PSA executed between Socoteco II and SoEnergy on May 28 that was amended on July 23.

The two-year deal, SoEnergy Philippines will “make available, reserve, guarantee and deliver” 15 MW of power at full capacity to the electric cooperative.

SoEnergy earlier established a power plant composed of Caterpillar brand modular generators and other necessary facilities in a lot owned by Socoteco in Purok Lanton, Barangay Apopong here.

Based on Socoteco II’s projections, an additional 52 centavos per kilowatt-hour (kwh) will be added to the area’s basic power rates if the generator sets will be used for six hours daily and P1.22 per kwh for 12 hours.

A capacity fee of 22 centavos per kwh will be charged to local power consumers while the generator units are on standby.

Socoteco II and SoEnergy initially decided last month to start utilizing the generator sets even without authority but later backed off due to possible sanctions from the ERC.

Crisanto Sotelo, Socoteco II’s technical services manager, said the use of the generator sets will eventually offset the area’s power deficit, which reaches as high as 25 MW.

He said such shortage has forced them to impose daily rotational brownouts lasting two hours and 30 minutes for their 44 area feeders.

Sotelo said the National Power Corporation (NPC) presently supplies around 42 MW of power through its hydroelectric plants in Bukidnon and Lanao provinces.

Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. presently augments the area’s power requirements by 35 MW based on an expanded power sale agreement it forged with Socoteco II.

The Alcantara Group’s Mapalad Power Corporation supplies an additional 30 MW to the area, which has an average daily peak demand of 115 to 119 MW.