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Tan group inaugurates 2-MW Batangas solar plant

Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - March 27, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Lucio Tan Group has joined the renewable energy bandwagon with the inauguration of its two-megawatt solar plant in Lian, Batangas yesterday.

The plant, located inside the compound of Absolut Distillers Inc., is the first solar project of the group and is in line with the group’s plan to “go green” and reduce its carbon footprint.

The solar facility is the first to operate in Batangas and can supply 60 percent of the alcohol distillery’s power requirements. Tan said his group could sell the entire output to the Luzon grid, which is facing a shortage this summer.

Aside from the solar facility, the Lucio Tan Group is also looking to invest in the wind energy sector.

Tan led the inauguration of the solar facility with Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla as guest of honor.

Petilla expressed his gratitude to the Lucio Tan Group for pushing the project.

“The Department of Energy enjoys your company as you provide a broader picture of how a country and its sectors should address power, integrated and straightforward,” Petilla said.

The energy chief also said the Aquino administration would continue to promote renewable energy, noting a growing trend of Filipinos getting exposed to new energy sources and understanding their viability.

“I hope that this event will not be the end of our future plans. We still have a lot of projects and initiatives. The sector needs your interests and endeavors. Let us continue to collaborate in creating an energy efficient nation,” Petilla said.

Electricity rates up in summer

The opening of the solar power plant, however, coincided with the increase in electricity rates this summer.

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) senior vice president and head of utility economics Larry Fernandez said rates are sure to go up this summer with the shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas field in offshore Palawan because the three natural gas-fired power plants that source fuel from Malampaya would have to use more expensive liquid fuel.

According to industry data, natural gas costs P5 per kilowatt-hour while diesel can cost P7 to P10 per kwh.

Fernandez said the generation charge, which accounts for roughly 60 percent of total electricity cost, would go up by 46 centavos per kwh in April and 72 centavos per kwh in May.

The increase in the generation charge would be higher in May because there are more days in the April supply month affected by the shutdown.

He also said running the three natural gas plants in Batangas – the 1,200 MW Ilijan, the 1,000 MW Santa Rita and 500 MW San Lorenzo natural gas fired power plants – is necessary.

As of yesterday, the Luzon grid had reserves of 1,276 MW with available capacity at 9,297 MW and demand at 7,712 MW, according to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.

But Meralco gave assurance yesterday that there won’t be a repeat of what happened in December 2013 when rates rose to a record high on the back of the 2013 one-month maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas field.

Fernandez said that while the deep water gas-to-power Malampaya project is again on maintenance shutdown from March 15 to April 13, the secondary cap at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the country’s trading floor for electricity, would prevent a similar situation from happening.

 

ABSOLUT DISTILLERS INC BATANGAS BUT MERALCO DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ENERGY ENERGY SECRETARY CARLOS JERICHO PETILLA FERNANDEZ LUCIO TAN GROUP MALAMPAYA PETILLA
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