DOE still pushing RE in Mindanao but calls for more ancillary services

Nov 23, 2014


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Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla has reiterated the Department of Energy commitment to push renewable energy in Mindanao but warns that new plants have to be balanced by ancillary services due to the volatile nature of RE.


“We should also push renewables but we have to be cognizant that RE is intermittent,” Petilla stressed in his keynote speech during the blessing and inauguration of the 20MW bunker-fired power plant of Peakpower Socsargen Inc. (PSI) in Bgy. Apopong, General Santos City 20 November 2014.


Energy Sec. Jericho L. Petilla stresses a point during a chat with PSI Chair Dr. Walter W. Brown, Gensan Chamber Pres. Atty. Raul Josefino Miguel and PSI President Roel Z. Castro on the occasion of the blessing and inauguration of PSI’s 20MW bunker fueled peaking plant which will provide peaking power to SOCOTECO-II. (photo by Mike Baños, NPN)


Petilla cited the case of Germany’s regulatory agencies which despite the presence of six contractors predicting the behavior of renewable energy to its power grid, have had to resort to importing energy from neighboring countries in the few times the projections failed to match actual demand.


“In Europe, they can import power from other countries to address shortages arising from this but we don’t have the same option due to the archipelagic nature of the Philippines,” he added.


Ancillary services is defined as anything that supports the transmission of electricity from its generation site to the user, including load regulation, spinning reserve, non-spinning reserve, replacement reserve and voltage support.


Records compiled by the Department of Energy (DOE) show some 157 listed RE projects in Mindanao with an aggregate capacity of approximately 1,700 megawatts as of September, 2014.

Although the Mindanao Development Authority confirms most of the projects already have service contracts, they still have pending incomplete requirements with various government agencies.


The bulk of the listed RE projects (73%) accounts for 66% of the aggregate design capacity, followed by solar (17%/ 16.3% of capacity), geothermal (5%/11.7% of capacity) and biomass (4%/5% of capacity).


“If we want to continue with RE, we have to have ancillary,” Petilla said.  “And usually ancillary are diesel plants. That’s why I’m always saying, if we want to push for more RE, we have to push for more diesel plants. Not necessarily running, but ready to run when the prediction is wrong.”


He cited the recent experience of the DOE in Ilocos Norte when various firms are competing to complete an additional 450MW of capacity in wind farms to qualify for the DOE’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program.


“The fastest wind farm is now in Ilocos,” Petilla said. “The biggest in Southeast Asia, it was built in only 16 months, because we told them the first to finish will be entitled to FiT. We hope to do the same in Mindanao.”


Besides ancillary services, Petilla also urged more investors to consider getting into peaking plants which are just as much needed as baseload plants and ancillary services.


“I’d like to tell you the relevance of Peakpower. There are many plants coming in but I’m worried there are not enough peaking plants,” Petilla stressed. “In the future we will need many plants across cooperatives because that is the best way to make adjustments when our demand and supply projections don’t match each other every now and then.”


“I hope we have more plants like this because this is what we really need in this area of Mindanao because our interconnection to either Leyte or Negros will not happen until 2018 at the earliest. I hope we will also have the support of the people of Mindanao when it comes to this,” he added.


The 20.9MW peaking power plant was completed ahead of schedule in only 15 months  by PSI,  a subsidiary of Peakpower Energy Inc., a joint venture of A Brown Company, Inc. (ABCI), Enterprise Holdings Corp., WorldPower Alliance Ltd., and Power Mavens Holdings Ltd.


Under a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement, PSI will supply the peaking power needs of South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (SOCOTECO II) for 15 years in General Santos City, the municipalities of Glan, Malapatan, Alabel, Makungon, Kiamba, Maasim and Maitum in Sarangani and Polomolok and Tupi in South Cotabato.


“This means that the people of Gensan and those within the franchise area of SOCOTECO-II will be able to hopefully have zero brownout this coming Christmas,” said PSI President Roel Z. Castro.

Dr. Walter W. Brown, PSI Chairman, said the plant would provide 20MW of the 120MW peak load of SOCOTECO-II and committed to expand it by an additional 15MW by next year.


In addition, Peakpower is rolling out an additional 50-60MW in the island including a 5MW bunker fueled peaking plant in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur by next month (with an additional 5MW by next year), and another in Bukidnon with the Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative (BUSECO).


“We are currently focusing on serving cooperatives because they are the ones who need power the most,” Dr. Brown said. “We are also open to doing embedded plants for industries but our plate is full at the moment, we want to service those who need it the most. I’d like to serve the people and the coops are the groups that need our support more than any other.”


Also in the pipeline is a 26MW hydroelectric baseload plant under development with partner cooperatives as off-takers through its subsidiary Hydrolink Projects which has already secured a service contract with DOE last year.


-I N D N C J –

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