By CARMELITO Q. FRANCISCO, Contributor
AN estimated 60-centavo per kilowatt-hour (/kWh) reduction in rates is expected in General Santos City, Sarangani province and parts of South Cotabato by next year when Sarangani Energy Corp. (SEC) starts commercial operations of the first 105-megawatt (MW) unit of its coal-fired power plant.
Aerial view of Sarangani Energy Corp.’s first 105-megawatt (MW) unit of its 210-MW coal-fired power plant — www.facebook.com/sarencor
South Cotabato Electric Cooperative II (Socoteco II) will be the main buyer of the plant’s output with a contracted supply of 70 MW at a starting price of P4.20/kWh, based on the approved purchase agreement.
The management of Socoteco II and SEC, a unit of Alsons Consolidated Resources, Inc., said residential and commercial customers can expect a reduction in their electricity bills once the plant is running and the agreement is implemented.
Socoteco II’s franchise areas cover the seven municipalities of Sarangani, Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato, and General Santos City where the present electricity rates are between P7.753/kWh to P7.901/kWh.
These areas are largely agro-industrial, with fish processing and canning companies and a pineapple plantation of Dole Philippines, Inc.
The electric cooperative currently sources its supply for the average 130-MW demand from the National Power Corp. through the main grid and from diesel-fired plants, at rates higher than the power supply agreement with Sarangani Energy.
SEC announced last week that it will start synchronizing its first unit with the Mindanao grid by December and commercial operation is targeted within the first quarter of 2016. The Alsons firm also announced that it will start constructing the second 105-MW unit by the second quarter of next year.
All of the 210-MW capacity is already contracted by several electric cooperatives and two distribution companies in various parts of Mindanao. These include co-ops in Agusan del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, North Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Misamis Oriental. The private firms are Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co., Inc. and Iligan Light and Power, Inc., both in Northern Mindanao.
The Sarangani Energy plant in Maasin town will be the second to be connected to the Mindanao grid after the first 130-MW coal-fired unit of Aboitiz Power Corp.’s Therma South, Inc. (TSI), which stated operating in September.
TSI also announced that it is putting online its second 130-MW unit in the first quarter of next year after encountering a delay earlier this year due to the April 5 Mindanao-wide grid problem.
The TSI plant, located at the border of Davao City and Davao del Sur province, has a total capacity of 300 MW and the company plans to expand it to 645 MW.
The Sarangani and TSI projects are among those approved and implemented after the passage of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act in 2001.