Surneco seeks 10-MW power supply deal with mine firm

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/16 May) — Power distribution utility Surigao del Norte Electric Cooperative Inc. (Surneco) is negotiating with a mining firm Nickel Asia Corporation for a 10-megwatt (MW) supply deal to help offset the power shortage in Surneco’s service areas.

Narciso I. Caliao Jr., general manager of Surneco said Thursday they are working for the approval of the provisional authority with Nickel Asia Corporation before the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) which they expected to be out by June this year.

On Thursday, ERC held a jurisdictional and evidentiary hearing on the application for power supply agreement between Surneco and Nickel Asia at the jam-packed conference hall of the power firm.

No one objected to the presentation. Instead the consumers urged Nickel Asia to fast-track the construction of its power plant and government agencies to expedite the approval of the application.

But former city mayor Alfonso S. Casurra ERC hearing officer Roviel V. Masigan that while he was not objecting to the proposed power deal, he was questioning the loan for the purchase of 10-MW generating sets that will cost at least 200 million pesos. The loan is funded by the government through the National Electrification Administration.

Calvin Genotiva, representative of Nickel Asia said the firm will set up at least three land-based power generators in Barangay Quezon, Surigao City with an investment of 1 billion pesos.

Genotiva said these Korean-made power generators are brand new and bunker-oil fed.

He said the project is under build-operate-transfer scheme with the ownership going to Surneco after 15 years.

He added that after getting the provisional authority from the ERC by June this year, the mining firm can the build the power plant within a nine-month period and start commercial operation by March 2015.

Surneco serves Surigao City including some of its island barangays and 11 towns in Surigao del Norte province. But the power firm has been imposing daily rotating brownouts lasting five to six hours.

Caliao said Surneco has pushed for the signing of a power deal with Nickel Asia to avert a major power shortage.

Virbuen U. Ladaga, head of Surneco’s technical department said Surneco’s service areas will no longer experience brownouts once Nickel Asia starts its operations.

Ladaga said Surneco currently has two power generator suppliers. These are National Power Corporation (NPC)-PSALM and Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc.

However, NPC-PSALM only gives 5.5 MW from the contracted supply of 12 MW, and Therma Marine only 3.3 MW of the 8 MW specified in their power supply agreement. Surneco has a standing power demand of at 28 MW.

NPC has reduced its allocations to electric cooperatives in Mindanao due to the declining capacity of its hydropower plants in Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte caused by the prolonged dry season.

Parts of Mindanao have experienced rains the past few days, although the state-run Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration has warned that an El Nino phenomenon may occur starting June. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)