STAKEHOLDERS in the sugar industry are optimistic in the opening of two biomass power plants in Negros Occidental that will soften the impact of the Asian Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) in 2015, when the five percent to zero tariff on imported sugar will be implemented.
The groundbreaking for the San Carlos Solar Energy Inc. and launching of the San Carlos Biomass Power Plant were held Wednesday at the 25-hectare San Carlos City Economic Zone.
Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary Daniel Ariaso said the opening of this type of power plants is in line with the government's thrust of encouraging investments in renewable energy.
"The DOE is also supporting more investments to wane away the country's dependence on fossil fuel and coal-fired power plants," Ariaso said.
Jose Maria Zabaleta, chairman of the firms undertaking the projects said, the solar plant that will produce 20 megawatts (MW) of power will be built by a company -- San Carlos Solar Energy Inc. -- whose investors are Thomas Lloyd and Bronzeoak Philippines, and will be completed in 2014.
Thomas Lloyd is a global investment banking and asset management group dedicated to renewable energy while Bronzeoak Philippines is a company specializing in renewable energy project development, finance and management.
The San Carlos Biopower Inc., also chaired by Zabaleta, is building the San Carlos Biomass Power Plant that will produce 20 MW of power.
Its investors are Thomas Lloyd, Bronze Oak and Wuxi Huaguang of China, and it is expected to be operational by 2015, Zabaleta said.
Today, the South Negros BioPower Incorporated will also launch the 25-MW biomass power plant in Barangay Cubay, La Carlota City, he said.
The P4.7-billion plant is being built in partnership with the group of Bob Cuenca, BronzeOak and Thomas Lloyd and expected to be completed by 2016 and to have 200 workers onsite and 250 offsite, he said.
Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, a former mayor of San Carlos City welcomed the investments as the province faces the prospects of 2015 for its main source of livelihood which is sugar.
"I and Rep. Julio Ledesma IV laid down the blueprint to make San Carlos City "The Renewable Energy Capital of the Philippines," Lacson said.
San Carlos Mayor Gerardo Valmayor, Jr. said this is good news for the city that has opened its arms to investors in renewable energy.
The Thomas Lloyd Group was led by its chairman and chief executive officer, T.U. Michael Sieg, projects in Negros are the cornerstone of its renewable energy investments in the Philippines.