Alsons Power strategizing on diesel plants

By Myrna M. Velasco – February 15, 2017, 10:01 PM

from Manila Bulletin

Amid oversupply condition in Mindanao grid, the power group of Alsons Consolidated Resources, Inc. (ACR) is stepping up on cornering contracts for “peaking capacity utilization” of its diesel-fired power facilities.

ACR Tomas I. Alcantara said “the diesel plants have a role to play… their purpose in life is to be able to supply day in and day out – the diesel plants are there for peaking, so for a cooperative or utility company, they contract capacity from a diesel for insurance capacity.”

He noted that these facilities “are always on stand-by, and on moment’s notice, we are dispatched to be able to meet the ‘peaks’ of the demand.”

Alcantara explained that these plant dispatch calls are often for 6:00 to 8:00pm peak; and then at 10-12 p.m.

Beyond the power utilities’ need for insurance capacity, he emphasized that diesel plants are also there “when there is breakdown in baseload capacity, they would normally make up for the deficiencies.”

The diesel plants of the Alsons power group include the capacities of the 55-megawatt Southern Philippines Power Corporation; 100MW Western Mindanao Power Corporation; and the 103MW Mapalad Power Corporation facility in Iligan.

The longer-term market succor for Mindanao though, according to Alcantara, will be the establishment of a Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) in the grid – which could then soak up un-contracted capacities and make it available in the market for willing buyers.

“We’re waiting for WESM. It will be good for the diesel business because it is ready to supply at a moment’s notice. So if there is any interruption in the grid, NGCP (National Grid Corporation of the Philippines) through WESM can actually buy the power that is available from our three diesel locations,” he said.

The other milestone the company has been closely watching is the planned interconnection of Visayas-Mindanao grids; which NGCP just recently announced to be done via Cebu-Dipolog route.

“Frankly speaking, we believe that it (grid interconnection) is going to be good for us because we are already in Mindanao and we have proven that we can have economies of scale,” Alcantara noted.

With the link-up, he noted that their six facilities would be able to share capacities in Visayas and even the interconnected grid of Luzon without necessarily replicating power plant construction in the two other grids.