URC awaits ERC okay to connect biomass power plant to Visayas grid

by Lenie Lectura – December 31, 2015

from Business Mirror

THE Universal Robina Corp. (URC) of the Gokongwei Group is seeking the green light from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to construct a facility that will connect its 46-megawatt (MW) biomass power plant to the Visayas grid.

“URC wants to develop and own or operate the proposed dedicated point-to-point limited transmission facilities to connect the power facility to the Visyas grid of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) through a tap connection to the Mabinay-Kabankalan 69-kiloVolt line to immediately commence connection of said interconnection facilities,” URC said in its nine-page application.

The NGCP is the country’s grid operator. URC’s 46-MW Kabankalan Biomass-fired power plant in Negros Occidental will use bagasse, a sugarcane by-product from URC’s sugar mill as feedstock. It intends to support the sugar- milling operations of URC subsidiary Southern Negros Development Corp. to help fill the demand for power in the area.

The project intends to ease and reduce the country’s dependence on imported crude, URC said.

The Gokongwei-led snack and beverage firm has engaged the services of Asiaphil Manufacturing Industries Inc. amounting to P140 million for the detailed engineering and design of the interconnection project. It has also tapped Power System Research and Consultancy Group for the supply of engineering services to conduct a System Impact Study for the plant amounting to P896,000.

The ERC has yet to decide on URC’s application. It has set a hearing to deliberate on the issue on January 20, 2016.

URC President and CEO Lance Gokongwei has said the power plant “will bring increased value to the sugar that we mill in order to prepare us for increased competition.”

The biomass-power plant is URC’s sugar and renewable division foray into renewable energy.

Half of its output will be used by URC’s sugar mill. The other half will go to the national grid under a 25-year operating contract with the Department of Energy.

The Philippines hopes to raise the share of renewable energy in the power mix to 15,304 MW by 2030, about half of projected demand for that year.