Power firm to increase coal plant capacity

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

THE AboitizPower Corp. is planning to increase the capacity of the 300-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant being constructed in Binugao, Toril to 645MW, with the projected shortfall in Mindanao's power supply from 2013 to 2018.

AboitizPower presented its proposed expansion before members of the Davao City Council, asking for their favorable endorsement while ensuring the company's responsibility on "environment protection" during a regular session Tuesday morning.

Manuel Orig, first vice president for Mindanao Affairs, said there is a need for additional capacity to fully supply Mindanao's continued development and growth in order to save people from experiencing further brownouts.

He said the construction of the existing 300MW will soon be completed.

Quoting a report from the Department of Energy, Orig said the Mindanao power supply shortfall is projected from 2013 to 2018 and is expected to reach from 50MW to 243MW.

"That is 50 to 110MW in 2013; 50 to 190MW by 2014; 120 to 280MW in 2015; 55 to 85MW in November-December 2017; and 50 to 243MW by 2018," he said.

In fact, he said only 40MW of the 300MW capacity of the coal plant being built will be utilized by the plant and the rest will be used to add up to Mindanao's power supply.

Thus, he said AboitizPower decided for the expansion of the generation capacity of Therma South Inc. from 300MW plant to 645MW "to commit the additional investment required to help ensure that Davao and Mindanao will have adequate supply to support its continued development and growth."

"With the proposed total generation capacity of 645MW, some 560MW is added to power supply of Mindanao and the remaining 85MW will be used to support TSI's own operating requirements," Orig said in a press conference after their presentation at the City Council.

He said the additional 345MW is projected to be enough to meet the power supply requirements by 2020.

"The previous power shortage in Mindanao should not happen again. Remember, it will take three years to build a major power plant," he said.

Orig said the first unit of the currently built coal-fired power plant will be completed by March 2015, while the second unit is set for completion in June 2015.

He said the proposed expansion of the additional 345MW is scheduled to be completed by 2017 for the Unit 3 of 172.5MW, while the additional Unit 4 of 172.5 MW will be scheduled for completion by 2018.

Benjamin A. Carioso, TSI president and COO, said although the construction of the existing 300MW coal-fired power plant has not yet been completed, 100 percent of its capacity has already been contracted to electric cooperatives, “underscoring the severe lack of power.”

The proposal was approved on first reading Tuesday under suspended rules.

Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, City Council committee chair on environment, said the three committees (energy, environment, and rules and public utilities) are expected to call for a committee hearing anytime soon.

"Whether we like it or not, we cannot survive without power," he said.

But he added that as chair of the committee on environment, he will see to it that the environment issues will be at all times given the utmost importance.

Dayanghirang said he expects the Aboitiz to comply with the conditions set during the term of former mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, such as mitigating the emission of carbon and pollution brought by the power plant.

"We just want to appeal to the Aboitiz group that continued planting of trees should be done and technical people can study the planting of mangroves," he said.

He said: "We are walking a tight route between economic development versus sustaining and protecting the environment."

When asked for comment, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte said he is amenable to the proposal on the expansion of the coal-fired power plant "as long as the company will assure the safety measures for the environment and the citizens."

"I-explain lang nila ug tarong na dili makaapekto sa environment. Kinahanglan naay mitigating measures labi na sa emission sa carbon. Mao ra man na ang importante tutukan diha (They just have to assure that it will not affect the environment. There should be mitigating measures, especially on carbon emission. That’s the most important)," Duterte said.

Orig said the Aboitiz vowed not to develop projects that will adversely affect the environment, the people and the customers.

"We use modern technologies so that it meets all standards imposed by national and local authorities. You have our assurance that the plant that we will build will be compliant of all these requirements and will not harm the environment," he said.

Carioso said a fully-enclosed coal dome has already been constructed to secure and contain its coal supply.

Alexander Ual, AVP for project execution and plant optimization of Therma Luzon Inc., said by its design, the operation is "already safe."

When asked what specific modern technology is being used to ensure environment protection, health and safety, Ual said they are utilizing a circulating fluidized bed in which lime will be injected to control the release of sulfur.

"Ang coal merong sulfur content pag hindi kinontrol. During the process, paglabas niya may sulfur siya pero pag nilagyan mo ng limestone, macontrol niya yung sulfur," Ual said.

He said safety standards to ensure human safety are also being provided.

Carioso also said that with the existing 300MW, they have started to implement the carbon sync program by planting one million trees in Marilog. (ANC)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 04, 2013.

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