Hike in power demand opens mart for new IPPs

() - July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Projections that the Philippines will need an additional 1,200 megawatts of generating capacity in Luzon, coupled with official estimates that demand would exceed supply two years before President Aquino ends his six-year term, makes good sense for new independent power producers to enter the market, analysts said.

Brokerage firm Philippine Equity Partners, Inc analyst Edser Trinidad said projections by the University of the Philippines’ National Engineering Center that electricity demand in Luzon would grow by three percent annually justify further investments in the generation business by IPPs in the next five years.

Trinidad said additional investments in the generation business are needed to ensure reliability and least-cost power supply even under moderate GNP growth assumptions of five percent annually, well below the government target of 7-8 percent.

Power outages would occur if the government meets its GNP growth targets, thus justifying decisions made by new IPPs such as Aboitiz Power Corp., PNOC-Energy Development Corp., San Miguel Corp., First Generation Power Corp, Semirara Corp. and food giant San Miguel Corp. to invest in the generation business.

Energy Secretary Rene Almendras said the government is also concerned over the tight electricity supply situation in Mindanao especially because reserve energy margins remained below the targeted 21 percent, which could plunge the island into daily brownouts again if a power plant or unit breaks down.

In 2010, a dry spell brought by El Niño caused water levels to go critical in Mindanao’s hydro plants, causing a rotating daily brownout that stunted a three-fold increase in its economy in the last three years of the Arroyo administration.

Even with plans by Conal Holdings, Inc., owned by the Alcantara-led Alsons, Inc., to put up two 200-megawatt coal-fired power plants in Sarangani and Zamboanga, and a P25-billion plan by Aboitiz Power, owned by the Aboitiz family which divested its maritime cargo business to go into the energy industry, to construct a power plant in Davao, power demand in Mindanao is expected to exceed supply by 2014.

Almendras said the Department of Energy is considering the transfer of oil-fired power barges and the re-commissioning of a 35-megawatt thermal plant in Iligan to offset a very tight electricity supply situation in Mindanao as power supply margins last summer had breached the required 21 percent despite the full generation performance of its hydro-electric power plants.

Local economists have bewailed the current high electricity costs in the Philippines as the major contributor to the rapid decline in the country’s competitiveness in the world market, with neighbors like Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand offering rates as low as 5-7 cents per kilowatthour against the Philippines’ 23 cents.

ABOITIZ POWER ABOITIZ POWER CORP CONAL HOLDINGS DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY EDSER TRINIDAD EL NI ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORP ENERGY SECRETARY RENE ALMENDRAS MINDANAO POWER SAN MIGUEL CORP
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