1st unit of 540-MW GN Power to start end of 2017

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 Feb) —  The first of three-unit 540-mw GN Power Kauswagan Ltd. Co. in Lanao del Norte, the biggest coal-fired power in Mindanao, will start trial operations by end of this year, Romeo Montenegro, director for Investment Promotion, International Relations and Public Affairs of Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said.

“Mindanao looks forward to further expanding its power capacity for baseload requirements with the expected coming online next year of 540 mw GN Power Kauswagan Coal-Fired Power plant in Lanao del Norte,” he said in a text message on Saturday.

He added the other two units would be synchronized to the grid next year, which is expected to bring the power surplus in Mindanao grid alone to over 1,000 mw from between 500 to 600 mw at present.

Some 20 out of 33 electric cooperatives will be contracted to the coal-plant, he said but excess is “relative to time” as the demand for power in Mindanao also increases and hydro plants depend on the amount of rainfall to produce power.

“Whatever excess we have today may no longer be an excess next year,” he said.

GNPower is a joint venture company between Ayala Corp.’s AC Energy Holdings, Inc. and Power Partners Ltd. Co.

In a December 2016 report of Department of Energy (DOE), non-renewable energy accounts more than half of Mindanao’s power source with 1,898 mw (1,070 mw coal and 828 mw diesel) while renewable source only contributes 1,264 mw (108 mw geo-thermal, 1,061 mw hydro, 36 mw biomass, and 59 mw solar).

Montenegro said Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) will start trial operations of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) next month until its commercial operation on June 26, 2017.

He said the Mindanao grid enters a “regime of excess in power supply” and it needs an electricity market like WESM Mindanao to efficiently manage the surplus.

He said all industry players can participate in the electricity market, except for Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which are off-grid areas.

“We need it, given that Mindanao needs to embrace the phenomenal growth. In the next five to 10 years, we will see more malls mushrooming in Mindanao. There will be new ports, airports, and seaports which will trigger the much needed demand for electricity. We need to prepare for such eventualities to make sure that mechanism is available to adjust to that kind of reality,” he said.

Electric cooperatives and the four distribution utilities – Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) and Cotabato Light and Power Company, both owned by AboitizPower Corp., Iligan Light and Power Inc., and Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company, Inc. – can continue their existing contracted capacities with a 25-year lock-in period, he said.

But he added WESM Mindanao can offer them remedy during unprecedented supply shortfall by tapping WESM to fill the power lack. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)