CEBU-based energy company Vivant Corp. targets to maintain growth levels as it embarks on an aggressive campaign to sharpen its brand and communicate better with its customers and the communities it serves.

"Because of the challenging environment, we're looking at around last year's (growth) level," Arlo Sarmiento, Vivant executive vice president and chief operating officer, told reporters after the company's annual stockholders meeting Thursday, June 15, in Cebu City.

The company posted a 23% growth in its net income to P1.3 billion in 2016 from P1.1 billion the previous year.

As part of its thrust to sharpen its brand, Vivant also launched during the stockholders meeting its improved website at www.vivant.com.ph.

"It's a very competitive game. If you don't move forward, you get left behind. You can't stay stagnant. You can't rest on your laurels and we have very demanding shareholders who want the company to grow," Sarmiento said to explain the company's thrust.

Sarmiento told stockholders that the company expects to ramp up its power generation capacity to 400 megawatts (MW) in 2018, a 58% increase from 253 MW as of end-2016. At least 10% is in renewable energy.

In Mindanao, a new 165-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental is targeted to be completed in the second half of this year.

The Balingasag Thermal Power Plant, which is being constructed in Barangay Mandangoa in Balingasag town, is made up of three 55-MW generating units which will supply Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company Inc. (Cepalco). Vivant's equity in the project amounted to about P2.8 billion.

The facility is being built by Minergy Power Corp., Vivant's joint venture with Mindanao Energy Systems Inc. (Minergy).

The Balingasag Thermal Power Plant is among three power generation projects that Vivant has invested in, Sarmiento said.

Two other projects up for completion are the 30-MW diesel-fired plant in Palawan and the 330-MW coal-fired power plant in Toledo City, Cebu.

Sarmiento said the diesel-fired facility in Palawan, which is being built by Delta P Inc., will supply Palawan Electric Cooperative through a 15-year power supply agreement. Vivant's equity investment in this project is about P200 million.

The coal-fired plant in Cebu is being constructed by Therma Visayas Inc., its joint venture with Aboitiz Power Corp. Vivant has invested about P2.2 billion in the project.

"Start of commercial operation is expected within the first half of 2018," Sarmiento said.

Vivant is also in the solar rooftop business through ET Vivant, a partnership with the local unit of China-based ET Energy that aims to serve commercial and industrial users with an average monthly electricity demand of 1 MW.

Sarmiento said the company aims to keep at least 10% of its total generating capacity in renewable energy projects.

"We are looking to build our first run-of-river hydro project in Negros as soon as transmission constraints are addressed," he added.

Vivant was set to break ground for the hydro project in Silay City, Negros Occidental this year, but had to set the project aside because of transmission constraints in Negros.

"The project could be stalled. But as long as we know when the constraint will be addressed, we can adjust and build accordingly. The problem right now is they haven't given us a firm date on when the constraint will be addressed," Sarmiento said.

As competition heats up under a retail competition and open access environment, Vivant has established two retail electricity suppliers (RES) namely, Prism Energy Inc. and Corenergy Inc.

"These companies will bank on our grasp of the industry to offer reasonably priced electricity and tailored power solutions for our customers," Sarmiento said.

Prism, which recently started operations, has gained a few customers while Corenergy is about to be launched. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)

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