First Gen keen to bid on CBK hydro

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Lopez-led First Gen Corp. hopes to bag another hydropower asset to be privatized by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM).

First Gen president and COO Francis Giles Puno said the company is keen on joining the privatization for the 796.46-megawatt (MW) Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan (CBK) hydroelectric power plant complex in Laguna, which PSALM is planning to jumpstart by yearend.

“We’re looking at it. We’re interested in CBK,” Puno said.

PSALM president and CEO Dennis dela Serna earlier said they are eyeing to release the invitation to bid for CBK by December, with the hope of having the bidding six months after or by June or July next year.

“But we’re waiting because sometimes these things get delayed. Like Casecnan, we are already ready two years ago, then the bidding took place this year only. So we don’t know when CBK will actually happen, but we’re interested,” Puno said.

PSALM last May conducted a successful public bidding for the 165-MW Casecnan hydroelectric power plant in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija, in which Fresh River Lakes Corp., a subsidiary of First Gen, emerged as the highest bidder.

Fresh River Lakes bid offer was $526 million for the sale of the power plant.

PSALM is hoping to close and receive the privatization proceeds for Casecnan by December.

“Hopefully (closing can happen by yearend). We are still currently waiting for government approvals, including that of the PCC (Philippine Competition Commission). So the ball is in the court of the government,” Puno said.

“In the meantime, we are arranging the financing,” he said.

Puno said  the company was tapping  domestic financing for the entire amount.

“So us, we are ready to pay for the bid price for Casecnan. We are in fact excited because we need to make sure that we prove that that investment is feasible,” he said.

First Gen is a leading independent power producer in the country that primarily utilizes clean and indigenous fuels such as natural gas, geothermal energy from steam, hydro-electric, wind, and solar power.

The company, which has over 20 years of experience in power development, has 3,482 MW of installed capacity in its portfolio, which accounts for 19 percent of the country’s gross generation.

It is part of the Lopez Group of Companies and a subsidiary of First Philippine Holdings Corp.

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