Kepco to push through with 200-MW power project

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Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco), an energy firm owned by the South Korean government, is pushing through with its plan to build a 200-megawatt coal-fired power plant that will supply the electricity requirements of a Korean shipbuilder operating in Subic Bay Freeport.

“Pursuant to the memorandum of understanding signed between the governments of the Philippines and Korea, Kepco is still interested in putting up a power plant with Hanjin in the Philippines,” said Kepco president Kyu-Beng Hwang on the sidelines of the Energy Investment Forum 2012 on Thursday. The project site, however, has yet to be determined, he added.

Hwang was referring to the MOU signed by former Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras and South Korea Minister of Knowledge Economy Hong Suk Woo during South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s three-day state visit to the country in 2011.

The MOU stipulated that the coal-fed facility would be put up within the Subic ecozone to serve the electricity requirements of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Ltd.-Philippines Inc., reportedly the biggest locator in the said free port.

However, Kepco is apparently planning to change the location of its proposed coal facility. It was not clear whether the difficulties being faced by another power firm, Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc., in pushing forward its planned 600-MW coal-fed plant within the Subic Freeport had something to do with what could be a change in the project site of the Kepco project.

It should be recalled that when the MOU was made public in November 2011, an Inquirer report cited former Olongapo Mayor James Gordon Jr. as saying that the proposed facility of Kepco must “fulfill and satisfy the social acceptability requirements of an environmental compliance certificate (ECC)…There are valid and significant concerns involving health, environmental and economic issues that need to be addressed.”

Gordon had said the government “must not compromise the primordial interests of the people of Olongapo and Zambales and the investors who have committed their (money) in tourism-oriented businesses.”

In the meantime, Hwang also hinted on the possible expansion of Kepco’s power portfolio in Luzon and Visayas, where the company has existing power facilities.

Kepco won the international bidding for the rehabilitation, operation, maintenance and management (ROMM) for the 650-MW Malaya thermal power plant in Pililla, Rizal, back in May 1995. The Malaya plant, however, has already been turned over to the government.

It also won the bidding in October 1996 for the build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract for the 1,200-MW Ilijan combined-cycle natural gas power project.

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