Socoteco 1 to buy additional power from Aboitiz firm

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/30 April) — Distribution utility South Cotabato 1 Electric Cooperative (Socoteco I) will purchase additional power supplies by next year from Therma South Inc. (TSI) as it moves to address the worsening supply shortage in its service area.

Santiago Tudio, Socoteco 1 general manager, said Wednesday they have forged a power sales agreement with TSI for the streaming of 2 megawatts (MW) of power to the area from its coal-fired power plant based in Davao City starting March 2015.

The electric cooperative signed the agreement with TSI and its mother firm Aboitiz Power Corp. (AboitizPower) in simple rites held in Koronadal City on Tuesday.

The deal was signed by Tudio and Socoteco 1 board president Francisco Estaris on behalf of the cooperative while AboitizPower was represented by its area manager for Mindanao Benedick Salvador and TSI by its president and chief operating officer Benjamin Cariaso Jr.

Tudio said the move will mainly offset the projected power supply deficit in the area next year with the expiration of its supply contract with TSI’s sister firm Therma Marine Inc. (TMI).

TMI currently augments Socoteco 1’s requirements by 4 MW through its diesel-fed power plants.

Socoteco 1, which lists a daily peak demand of 33 MW, serves eight municipalities in South Cotabato, Koronadal City and Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat.

“We opted to make a deal with TSI since they are offering cheaper and more reliable power supplies through their coal plant,” Tudio said.

He said the deal’s impact on the power rates would only be minimal and the adjustment will not likely exceed 10 centavos.

TSI’s 300-MW coal-fired power plant, which is located at the boundary of Davao City and Sta. Cruz town in Davao del Sur, is now 90-percent complete.

The company is currently targeting to conduct its first test run by August this year and start its commercial operations by March 2015.

With the signing of the power sales deal with TSI, Tudio said they will no longer be renewing its supply agreement with TMI due to cost considerations.

“We will have additional power supplies coming in next year from solar and our leased modular generators so I think we’re assured of enough supplies by then,” he said.

He was referring to the 5-MW solar power plant being installed in Surallah town and the 12-MW modular generator sets that it leased from power provider Aggreko and its partner Mapalad Power Corporation.

But Tudio said TMI will remain an option for the cooperative in case the power crisis affecting the critical Mindanao grid eventually worsens. (MindaNews)