Full audit of Visayas power plants urged

By JADE LOPEZ
Cebu Gold Star Daily Reporter

A SENIOR official of a power consortium is backing the call for transparency among power generation companies saying it will ensure adequate power supply, especially in the Visayas grid.

Cebu Energy Development Corporation (Cebu Energy) president Jesus Alcordo told reporters that his company is strongly supporting the proposal of Fr. Francisco Silva of the National Electrification Administration (NEA), who has been calling for an audit of power plants in Cebu to avoid power outages in the province.

“We are in a precarious situation in terms of supply. There must be transparency so we will know the real actual capacity,” Alcordo said.

Four companies–the Aboitiz Power Corporation, FHI, Global Business Power Corporation and Vivant Power Corporation–make up the Cebu Energy consortium aimed at addressing the looming power problem in Cebu. The group plans to operate a 246-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Toledo City, Cebu.

“We need to analyze the real problems and challenges of the industry. If we have a full audit of power plants in Cebu, it will ensure sustainable and reliable power,” Alcordo told a press conference recently.

Apart from monitoring plant maintenance and environmental concerns, Alcordo suggested that the auditing of power generation utilities be expanded to cover all factors concerning the energy sector such as the issue of power rates.

“Once we are able to determine the real shortfall of energy, we can fully address the supply side because our thrust is to provide transparency to the stakeholders of the industry,” he said.

Alcordo cited the alleged inconsistencies of reports affecting the power situation in the Cebu-Negros-Panay grid as among the main concerns that face the power industry in Cebu today.

He too stressed on the lack of the required reserved capacity within the grid to address the fast growing power demand of Cebu.

He described reports presented earlier by the National Transmission Commission (Transco) and that of the National Power Corp. (NPC) as “conflicting.”

Alcordo said that Transco’s presentation revealed that the Cebu-Negros-Panay grid has a shortfall of 40 megawatts (MW) because the reserved capacity of the geothermal power plant in Tongonan, Leyte which supplies 360 MW of its 400 MW submarine cable to Cebu has de-rated its capacity to 520 MW.

But during the Energy Forum hosted by the Visayan Electric Company late last year, NPC reported that the Tongonan, Leyte geothermal plant only has 480 MW capacity, in which reserved capacity of the plant could be at 32 MW which might make the actual shortfall of energy even much higher than the reported 40 MW, said Alcordo.

Alcordo also said electricity rates in the region are benchmarked against the time-of-use rates of NPC “which do not reflect the true cost of generation and have not encouraged investments in new capacities.”

He said baseload capacities in the region all come from very old power plant like that of Toledo Power Corp.’s 66-MW coal-fired power plant in Toledo City that has been in operations for 30 years.

“TPC has invested P200-million to rehabilitate and improve the reliability of the plant. But an old plant is an old plant, it can never be efficient or reliable as a new one,” he added.

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