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Araneta to pursue P10-B hydropower project

/ 05:38 AM November 02, 2017

Businessman Gregorio Araneta III plans to invest P10 billion in an 800-megawatt hydropower plant project in Pangil, Laguna.

This would form part of a renewable energy portfolio that Araneta was planning to build.

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The 800-megawatt Dambo pumped storage hydropower project, which will occupy at least 170 hectares of the land accumulated by Araneta in this part of Laguna, had already received most of the approvals required by the local government unit, the businessman said.

Funding for the project is not a problem, Araneta said, adding that a leading US-based renewable energy producer wanted to meet with him to discuss potential ventures.
He said this group probably learned about his venture because of his 162.5-megawatt solar farm in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, which was inaugurated last year.

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“They want to go to Southeast Asia,” he said.

Largest in region

At the time of inauguration, the solar farm built by Gregorio Araneta Inc. (GAI) and partner Soleq, one of Southeast Asia’s largest solar independent producers, was the largest in the Southeast Asian region.
The solar farm is set to expand capacity by another 20 MW to 182.5 MW, Araneta said.

For the new hydropower project in Laguna, pre-development is expected to be completed by 2019 while construction will take another two years.

Araneta said this hydropower project—aside from the solar project and the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project he’s pushing for in Limay, Bataan—was one of the last renewable energy projects he would like to include in his portfolio. Another will be a project in Mindanao that would complement his LNG project under the proposed $1.2-billion Energy City with a 600-MW LNG-fired power plant.

Asked about the site identified for the Laguna hydropower project, Araneta said his company had been buying titled land for this purpose.

As such, the project does not expect to encounter the usual problems encountered by other hydropower projects on land ownership.

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Araneta expects the country’s largest energy distributor, Manila Electric Co., to be an off-taker of energy to be produced by this new project.

The project will likewise be under Araneta’s privately-held holding firm GAI.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the $1.2-billion “Energy City” project proposed by Araneta III in Bataan was stalled by leasehold issues with state-owned Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC).

Leasehold right

Araneta wants PNOC to honor a leasehold right approved in 2015 by PNOC’s subsidiary PNOC Alternative Fuels Corp (PAFC), for which he had already given a P38.639-million deposit.

The PNOC, for its part, said it remained open to Aranata’s project, except that the terms would have to be improved to comply with the latest appraisal values lest the contract be disallowed by the Commission on Audit and leave PNOC’s officers vulnerable to graft charges at the Ombudsman.
At the same time, PNOC Ela Barleta said the PAFC’s old deal with Araneta was not approved by the main PNOC board, as required by internal protocol as a government corporation.

The PNOC indicated it wanted to increase the rental rate for the project from P63 to P78 per square meter.

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TAGS: 800-megawatt hydropower plant project, Gregorio Araneta III, Pangil Laguna
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