Metrobank expands power deals

by Alena Mae S. Flores – January 03, 2016 at 11:30 pm

from Manila Standard

Global Business Power Corp., the energy unit of the Metrobank Group, said it is expanding its power generation projects this year with the addition of a 150-megawatt coal plant capacity in Iloilo City in August.

The company is also pursuing the construction of a biomass power plant in the Visayas, which is due for completion by late 2017.

Global Business Power president Rolando Bacani said Panay Energy Development Corp., the operator of the coal plant in Iloilo, would commission another 150-MW unit in August.

“GBPC will also undertake biomass project which is targeted to be completed late next year,” Bacani said.

The company has an ongoing 150-MW expansion project in Iloilo City through unit PEDC. The groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held in March 2014.

Panay Energy’s 150-MW expansion project can serve power requirements of the entire Visayas, including Panay, Boracay, Negros, Cebu and Leyte, at a rate of P5.05 per kilowatt-hour.

Global Business Power and partner Roxas Holdings Inc. are also putting up a 40-MW co-generation facility in Negros Occidental, which is estimated to cost around $100 million by 2017.

“We are in the final stages. By end of this year, we will be able to come up formally with our entry into renewables. [It is] the first biomass bagasse project that we will do,” Global Business executive vice president Jaime Azurin said earlier.

The joint venture partners earlier tapped Pöyry Energy Inc. for the front-end engineering design of the power plant.

“We are very careful on this because this is the first big plant that will be built here using bagasse and we are all aware biomass is not as easy as we think it is,” Azurin said.

He said the biggest challenge would be logistics to ensure enough fuel for the power plant.

The output of the facility will be under the feed-in tariff regime.

“We have to catch up with the feed-in-tariff. Nobody’s catching up with biomass because it’s difficult to undertake. We’re sure that we will be one of the first to be able to touch the biomass 250-MW FIT allocation by September of 2017,” he said.

He said another challenge was the efficiency of the sugar mills, as most of them were built in the 1960s.

“So how do you put in a very efficient power plant in an inefficient environment? That’s a big challenge,” he said.

He said the sugar mills would supply bagasse to the power plant. “After this final engineering design, we will all decide if it’s a go, then part of the agreement would be the ownership structure,” he said.

The co-gen plant will cater to the energy requirements of the sugar mill and contribute excess power to the grid.

Roxas Holdings is the country’s largest integrated sugar and ethanol business while Global Business Power is the power generation arm of GT Capital Holdings Inc.

Global Business Power also bared plans to put up a power plant in Luzon. “Yes, we’re looking at Luzon. Yes [coal] but it has to be bigger in size to be able to lower the cost. Very soon. I cannot tell you because a lot of people are looking for a safe spot,” Azurin said.

He said the Luzon project might begin construction in 2016, but the company had yet to secure a power supply agreement with distributor Manila Electric Co.

Meralco through subsidiary Meralco PowerGen Corp. owns a 22-percent stake in Global Business Power.