Thursday, November 1, 2012

DOE nod sought for $500-million power project

MANILA, Philippines - Agus 3 Hydropower Corp., the proponent behind the Agus 3 hydropower plant, is seeking the Department of Energy’s nod for the $500-million project in Mindanao. The 225-megawatt (MW) power plant, which has been shelved by former DOE officials, will increase available output in electricity-starved Mindanao, the company said. In a letter to new DOE Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, Agus 3 Hydropower president Saidamen Pangarungan said the company’s application for a service contract is already delayed by almost two years. Agus 3 Hydropower said former DOE officials delayed the project “despite our full compliance of the requirements of the Renewable Energy Law and shelved the Baloi Plains project.” The firm said the two renewable projects are seen to stave off the Mindanao power crisis. To date, Mindanao is reeling from 30 minutes to four hours of rotating blackouts due to supply shortfall and the shutdown of a key power plant. Agus 3 said it already secured relevant government clearances, including the certificate of non-overlap from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. In January last year, Agus 3 applied for a renewable energy service contract. The DOE, which also said that the awarding of hydropower resources in the area is not technically feasible due to the cascading nature of the resource, also asked the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) for policy directions. Under Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, Agus complex should be privatized 10 years after the passage of the law. The 10-year moratorium ended last June, but DOE already recommended not to sell the hydropower facilities prior to the deadline. The sale of the hydropower complex has faced several oppositions, like concerns from the Alliance of Electric Service Companies in Mindanao that the low-cost power provided by the power complex could be jacked up when privatized. “They have a pending application and we have already informed them that until there is a decision on the privatization of Agus-Pulangi, we cannot act on their application,” said DOE Undersecretary Jose Layug Jr. - By Neil Jerome C. Morales