by Alena Mae S. Flores – April 04, 2016 at 11:50 pm
from Manila Standard Today
Energy Development Corp. said Tuesday its operations of Mt. Apo geothermal plants are not affected by the fire in Mt. Apo in North Cotabato.
EDC informed the Philippine Stock Exchange the fire was approximately seven kilometers from the Mt. Apo geothermal’s perimeter.
“This is the third forest fire on Mt. Apo in 20 years and we are keenly aware of the fire risks at Mt. Apo when there is drought. Our forest protection rangers have the skills, equipment and training for this type of event,” business unit head James Villaroman said.
“Having planted over 2.5 million trees that we wish to nurture and protect, we proactively created layer upon layer upon layer of fire breaks in the forest just for this precise risk. Some of our fire breaks are over 20 meters wide, way over global recommended practice. Protecting our asset is something we take very seriously,” he said.
The fire on the Davao del Sur side continues to rage and is headed away from EDC’s facilities. EDC operates the 106-MW Mindanao geothermal production field.
“EDC is closely monitoring the fire. Its emergency response team and fire fighting systems are in place and ready to take action in cooperation with local emergency services if it becomes necessary,” the company said.
“EDC forest patrols and aides together with the local government units of Kidapawan, Makilala and Magpet [also in Cotabato] and volunteers are still on alert. In the meantime that the risk is diminishing, they are widening and extending the firelines near the reforestation block of EDC as a risk mitigating measure,” it said.
EDC deployed members of its emergency unit to assist the groups handling the containment of the Mt. Apo fire.
EDC has earmarked P14 billion in capital expenditures this year from around P10 billion to P12 billion in 2015 .
EDC president and chief operating officer Richard Tantoco earlier said the company would allot the bulk of the amount to improve the reliability of the 112.5-MW Tongonan geothermal power plant in Leyte.
“Because last year, it cost us about P700 million in foregone revenues when the plant was down for six months, so we want to put investments on that to boost the reliability,” Tantoco said.
He said the company would spend around P4.3 billion for the Tongonan project, which he estimated to take 145 days.
“We already have all the equipment from Mitsubishi two years ago, it will arrive fourth quarter this year and all the units will start shutting down one after the other,” Tantoco said.
He said the company was investing to improve the reliability of other assets, as well such as the 125-MW Upper Mahiao geothermal plant in Leyte.
“For the Upper Mahiyao, we’ve ordered new motors from GE, they’ll arrive from Chicago in third or fourth quarter of this year. So we are also investing to boost the reliability of our assets,” Tantoco said.
The company, the country’s biggest geothermal producer, will also invest in geothermal drilling operations this year.
EDC, an affiliate of First Gen Corp., owns 1,441 megawatts of generating capacity comprising of 1,159 MW of geothermal, 150 MW of wind, 132 MW of hydro and 4 MW of solar.