The Alcantara group is racing to complete by September this year the P1.2-billion rehabilitation of the Iligan diesel power plant to help ease the worsening power crisis in Mindanao.
The group, through its subsidiary Mapalad Power Corp. admitted, however, that it will be a “tough job” to ensure the full operation of the facility at 98 megawatts due to poor maintenance records and the scarcity of parts in the market.
“It is a tough order, but we will try our best to deliver the most we can in the shortest possible time,” Mapalad power plant manager Ruben Ramilo said in a statement.
Once the 30-year-old diesel-fired power plant resumes operations this September, the electricity produced by the plant will be the “first solid action on the ground to address the four- to eight-hour daily brownouts in Mindanao that has left large communities and businesses reeling.”
According to Alsons Power Group VP for operations Edgar D. Sevilles, Mapalad began the rehabilitation work only last March 11, 2013. The diesel-fed facility is expected to begin operating on a ramp-up basis within this month, thus providing electricity-starved Mindanao with an additional power source.
“Restoring the diesel generating units back to its optimum condition is not an easy task. We have to verify which unit needs major overhaul and which unit needs only minor overhaul,” Sevilles explained.
“The problem is that we do not have complete historical data that will tell us how these units were operated and maintained by the previous operator. We’ll have to make assumptions and random inspections in order to map out plans of action for each unit and for all other auxiliary equipment and facility,” he added.
Another stumbling block, according to Sevilles, is the availability of replacement parts and equipment especially for the electrical items.
“Some of these items are already obsolete and are no longer available in the market and thus need to be completely replaced with updated models. Some would take around three to four months for the suppliers to deliver these items, so we’ll have to consider this lead time in projecting our load ramp up schedule. But as we have said, we will try our best to stay on track with our target schedules despite these difficulties,” Sevilles further explained.
Mapalad Power has already signed power sales agreements with various distribution utilities and electric cooperatives in Mindanao. These agreements cover roughly 90 percent of the 98-MW targeted output of the Iligan plant.
The Iligan diesel facility was originally developed and operated by the Alcantara Group through its subsidiary, Northern Mindanao Power Corp. (NMPC), under two energy conversion agreements with state-run National Power Corp.
The power units were then turned over to Napocor at the respective expirations of the two agreements in 2003 and 2006 and were subsequently acquired by the City of Iligan in 2007. Napocor continued operating the plants until 2010.