Acquiring new power barges worth roughly P80 million each will be more feasible for the private sector to undertake than acquiring and rehabilitating the four diesel-fired power barges being sold by the government, according to Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla.
Petilla pointed out that the rehabilitation of Power Barges 101, 102, 103 and 104, which was stipulated in the proposed sale contracts, would require as much as P50 million per megawatt. This means that for a 32-megawatt power barge, the winning bidder must spend as much as P1.6 billion for repairs alone, or a total of P6.4 billion for the four power barges. Further investments are needed for the transfer and mooring of the power barges in new locations.
The initial plan was for the private sector to acquire the power barges and shoulder the costs of transferring the Visayas facilities to Mindanao. PB 101 and 102 are stationed in Barrio Obrero in Iloilo City, while PB 103 is moored off Botongon, Estancia, Iloilo. PB 104 is already in Mindanao.
“We don’t even need to decommission these power barges as these won’t run anymore soon. A few more months and they will be considered junk. The government can purchase [new power barges] if there was a provision in the law that will allow it to purchase for emergency purposes, but this will take us some time,” Petilla explained.
The government was previously banking on the four power barges to provide the much-needed additional capacity in Mindanao, which is expecting a 200-MW shortage by the summer of next year.
But industry stakeholders and government officials have accepted the fact that it would now be impossible to transfer the three Visayas-based power barges to Mindanao to ease the shortfall in 2013 when it failed to dispose of the assets to the private sector after three attempts.
The state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) has yet to announce the fate of the four power barges. It is, however, considering three options, one of which is to decommission some of the facilities.
“PSALM has outlined a number of options taking into consideration the current situation in Mindanao and recommendations of the National Power Corp. I will submit these to the PSALM board for direction,” PSALM president and CEO Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. had said in an earlier interview with the Inquirer.