TOLEDO CITY, Cebu ? Diversifying conglomerate San Miguel Corp. plans to put up a 300-megawatt minemouth coal power plant in Mindanao, a move that can help shore up power supply in the island over the next few years.
At the sidelines of the Cebu Energy Development Corp. switch-on ceremony here, San Miguel president Ramon S. Ang told reporters that the company was putting up a greenfield power plant following the acquisition of a coal mine in General Santos. (A greenfield is an engineering jargon that refers to a project facing no constraints imposed by prior work.)
Although he did not disclose San Miguel's planned investment for the facility, Ang said the company would have to invest as much as $1 million to produce one megawatt from coal resources. This meant that for the initial 300-MW project, San Miguel would need to invest some $300 million or about P13.5 billion.
Ang said the coal mine has enough reserves that could enable the company's planned power facilities to provide the Mindanao grid as much as 2,000 MW.
Ang said that company, which for now would pursue the project on its own, has planned to put up the power plants in phases, each of which might have about 150 MW to 300 MW. The pace and timetable of the planned power projects, he added, would be based on the projected demand in Mindanao.
As of Friday, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said the Mindanao grid had a power supply deficit of 700 MW, amid the El Niño weather disturbance that has been drying up water reservoirs, thus impairing the operations of the hydropower facilities there.
Mindanao sources 53 percent of its electricity requirements from hydropower sources.
?Within this year, we plan to start the project. That's a greenfield facility so it will take about only 24 months to construct.... We're still conducting the study for that,? he added.
Ang, however, declined to give further details as the company is currently in the thick of preparing applications for a coal operating contract, environmental compliance certificate, among others.
Even with the low electricity prices in Mindanao, Ang said the company would still pursue the coal project, as an act of social responsibility in helping the country secure its electricity supply.
San Miguel has been aggressive in expanding its power business, following the acquisitions of various state-owned power plants and independent power producer administrator contracts in 2009, including the 540-MW Limay combined cycle power plant in Bataan and the contracted capacity for the 1,200-MW Sual coal plant in Pangasinan.
For this year, the conglomerate is bidding for the 246-MW Angat hydroelectric power plant in Bulacan and the IPPA contract for the 1,200 Ilijan natural gas facility in Batangas.