Aboitiz’s coal-fired plant in Davao to start operation Friday

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 Sept) – Therma South Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Corp., announced on Tuesday that the first of two units of its coal-fed 300-megawatt Therma South Energy Project in Toril, Davao City will go on commercial operations starting on Friday.

This would be the first major power plant added to the Mindanao grid after almost a decade.

Benjamin Cariaso Jr., Therma South president and chief operating officer, said the first phase of the coal-fired plant will go on full commercial operation to deliver contracted power to at least 20 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities across the island-region.

At least 50 MW of the first unit with an installed capacity of 150 MW has been contracted by Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) which has a daily demand of more than 300 MW. The remaining 100 MW will be delivered to other customers in several parts of Mindanao.

“We have informed our customers and our stakeholders that we will soon be on full commercial operations and will supply Mindanao with reliable and cost-effective baseload power,” Cariaso said in a statement.

“We are here not only to help Mindanao solve the current power crisis. The Aboitiz group is committed to helping Mindanao sustain its economic growth and finally fulfill its potential,” he added.

The construction of the power plant started in 2012, following the energy crisis that left several parts of Mindanao without power.

There were calls issued by several sectors to revisit the Republic Act (RA) 9136, also known as the Energy Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001, after failing to live up to some of its provisions, among them was ensuring sufficient power.

The 150 MW second unit of TSI will be commissioned in March 2016, 50 MW of which will be contracted to Davao City, according to DLPC senior vice president Arturo Milan during the National Grid Power Corporation’s Mindanao Power Situation Forum last month.

With additional 50 MW plus the DLPC’s existing 100 MW reserve, he assured power consumers within its franchise area that there will be no rotational brownout during summer months of next year, given that the National Power Corporation (NPC) will supply them with sufficient power.

But with the power crisis in the offing, the Aboitiz firm is eyeing to commission the TSI’s second unit by end of this year.

Therma South’s 300-MW coal-fed power plant is located in the boundary of Barangay Binugao, Toril District, Davao City and Barangay Inayawan, Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur.

The P25-billion power plant started construction in 2012 and, at its peak, employed more than 4,500 workers, mostly from its host communities.

The power plant will supply power to major cities of Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Gen. Santos, Butuan, Kidapawan Cotabato and Tagum. It will also serve the provinces of Davao, Caraga, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, parts of Bukidnon, parts of Misamis and parts of Zamboanga peninsula.

“The power plant also features the first ‘coal dome’ in Southeast Asia – a modern coal storage facility that will ensure security of the fuel and safety and well-being of the surrounding areas. The power plant will utilize circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology to ensure it meets government standards on health, safety and protection of the environment while operating in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” Therma South’s statement added.

The firm will import coal from Kalimantan, Indonesia to power the plant.

When there is insufficient power in the Mindanao Grid, DLPC will tap its standby Bajada Diesel Power Plant with a sustained capacity of 40 MW. DLPC has also contracted from Hedcor’s Tudaya 1 with 6.6 MW and the 42.5 MW of Sibulan A and B in Davao del Sur.

Under the interruptible load program (ILP), some big companies in the city are encouraged to deload from grid and run their own generator sets.

Since the power crisis in 2012, power companies are encouraged to invest in Mindanao. However, power stakeholders are saying that there should be a balanced power mix on the island, meaning 50 percent hydro and 50 percent fuel.

At present, the Agus and Pulangui hydropower complexes provide Mindanao 55 percent of its power supply. (Antonio L. Colina IV and Bong S. Sarmiento)