AC Energy may not need BSP okay for coal project

by Lenie Lectura – February 25, 2016

from Business Mirror

AC Energy Holdings Inc. said financing for its coal-power project in Bataan may no longer require approval from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). This, a company official said, could cut down processing time by at least three months.

AC Energy President John Eric Francia said the company would seek clarification from the BSP if loans for power-project financing no longer requires BSP approval.

“I think a couple of weeks ago, there was a statement from the BSP where they will exempt dollar loans that require BSP approval for power projects. So, we’re seeking clarification,” Francia said.

Project proponent GN Power Mariveles Coal Plant Ltd. is constructing a 2×600-megawatt (MW) coal-power plant in Mariveles, Bataan. Construction for the first phase of the project, a 600-MW unit, will start within the year.

Francia said earlier that GN Power Mariveles signed a loan agreement last December with five local banks to partly finance the first phase of the power project, which costs over $1 billion.

AC Energy holds a 20-percent interest in the project. GN Power Mariveles needs to close the financial aspect of the project prior to construction. The target is to completely build the first unit in 2019.

Francia said a BSP exemption “could streamline our process, if that is clarified. That could save us a few months,” said the official, who added that seeking BSP approval takes about at least three months.

GN Power Mariveles has tapped Shanghai Electric Power Construction Co. as EPC (engineer, procurement, construction) contractor for the project.

The output of the first phase of the power project will be sold via bilateral contracts and auction. “It will be a combination of CSP [competitive selection process] and open access,” Francia said.

He did not divulge the amount of the loan, but said companies ideally follow the 70:30 debt-to-equity ratio. If applied, this would mean that AC Energy and partners would borrow at least $700 million to finance the first phase of the power project.

The second phase of the power project involves putting up another 600 MW of power-generating capacity also in the area.

US-based GN Power is owned by Nauruan-American firm Power Partners Ltd. Co. Aside from AC Energy, Sithe Global Power Llc., a company owned by investors of the Blackstone Group, is also part of GN Power.

AC Energy is the development arm of the Ayala group in the energy sector. The company is committed to build a portfolio of power-generation assets using renewable and conventional technologies.

Since 2011, Ayala has committed over $700 million in equity to develop conventional and renewable-energy sources. AC Energy has currently assembled over 700 MW of attributable capacity, putting the company closer toward achieving its target of assembling over 1,000 MW of attributable capacity from power plants by 2016.