THE Therma South Inc. (TSI), a fully-owned subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Corporation inaugurated on Friday its 300-megawatt (MW) baseload coal-fired power plant located between the boundaries of Barangay Binugao, Toril, Davao City and Barangay Sirawan, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.
The baseload power plant is a two-unit power generator with 150-MW capacity each.
TSI’s two units have a combined net power capacity of 260 MW and house load requirement of 40 MW.
TSI unit one started commercial operations last September 2015 while its second unit is presently undergoing reliability testing and is targeted to be in full commercial operations by February of this year.
With the entry of the coal-based power plant and other upcoming conventional power plant projects of other private power firms, better power situation is seen for the island as it will not be dependent on weather conditions like prolonged dry spells.
“This baseload plant is able to continue generating much needed power even with Mindanao is experiencing dry spells caused by El Nino phenomenon. We hope that other power projects from other private companies will also realize their projects which are seen as power assets in the island, this will eventually lead to a steady and reliable supply of power in Mindanao,” AboitizPower chief executive officer Erramon Aboitiz said in his speech during the switching-on ceremony of the power plant yesterday.
He added that with private sector entering the power industry is a strong indication that Republic Act (RA) 9136 or otherwise known as Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (Epira) is working by transforming the industry from a monopolized and politicized into a competitive structure.
The power asset, which has a dependable capacity that is roughly equivalent to one-fifth of the Mindanao grid’s highest peak demand in 2015, supplies power to more than 20 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities in Mindanao including Davao Light Power Company (DLPC), power providers of the cities of Cagayan De Oro, General Santos, Zamboanga, Butuan, Kidapawan, Tagum, Koronadal, Digos, Pagadian and Cotabato, among others.
The Aboitiz Power Corp. showed interest of establishing a coal plant in 2010.
The P35-billion coal-fired power plant eventually started construction in 2012 and was totally sold to electric cooperatives and distribution utilities in 2014.
Responding on claims of environmentalists that the coal facility will be detrimental to health and environment, TSI in its primer said that the plant uses modern technology such as latest circulating fluidized bed (CFB) combustion technology that minimizes emissions, coal dome, a storage coal facility, screw-type ship unloader, electrostratic precipitator (ESP) and continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) all in its effort to comply with the health and environmental standards.
Arturo M. Milan, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of DLPC in a separate interview said that the distribution utility lowered down its contracted demand with National Power Corporation (NPC)- Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) from 274MW of last year to about 140 MW starting January of this year because of the entry of more coal-fired power plants. DLPC total contract for TSI is 100 MW.
Balanced power mix
As a continuous battle cry of establishing a balanced power mix of renewable and non-renewable power supply in the country especially Mindanao, the Department of Energy (DOE) and Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), among other power industry players is also pushing for more RE power projects.
“Mindanao we are pushing for 50-50 power mix as per Mindanao 2020 vision, and taking this into the national level we in the energy department is targeting by the end of 2016 to achieve at least 30 percent of the national grid will be sourced from RE supply,” Zenaida Y. Monsada, DOE newly-appointed secretary, for her part said.
At present, there are more than 290 pending RE projects, 72 of which are from Davao Region based on the Department of Energy data.
The Mindanao’s pending projects have a combined capacity of 3,256.83 MW.
These RE pending projects were now being monitored and facilitated by the One-Stop Facilitation and Monitoring Center (OSFMC), a program initiated by the Mindanao Development Authority’s (Minda) – Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee.