By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor
AYALA CORP.’S energy unit targets to finish in the next two years the three recently acquired biomass projects to qualify for the guaranteed power rate offered under the extended feed-in-tariff (FiT) system, a company official said.
“We will rush it (construction). Tatapusin namin in two years itong tatlo (We will finish the three projects in two years). These will all be completed,” Don Mario Y. Dia, AC Energy Holdings, Inc. senior vice-president for external affairs, told reporters.
Mr. Dia was referring to the three plants under Negros Island Biomass Holdings, Inc. (Islabio), a company acquired last year by Presage Corp., a unit of Ayala-led AC Energy.
Islabio owns shares in three subsidiaries, namely: the 20-megawatt (MW) San Carlos Biopower, Inc., the 25-MW South Negros Biopower, Inc. and the 25-MW North Negros Biopower, Inc. They are all engaged in biomass power generation and sale of electricity.
While the San Carlos project has been delayed, Mr. Dia said it would be moving into the commissioning phase in the next two to three months.
“So that will be our first biomass that will be under FiT,” he said, referring to the system that offers a fixed rate for 20 years for the electricity produced by developers of solar, wind, biomass, ocean energy and run-of-river hydro power plants.
The FiT is granted to the first to finish projects by end-2017 or earlier if the limited capacity set by the Department of Energy (DoE) had been fully subscribed.
For biomass development, 19 projects with a total capacity of 138.61 MW were awarded certificates of eligibility as of November last year, or a balance of 111.39 MW out of the 250-MW target.
The DoE has said it is keen on extending the biomass FiT for two years.
Mr. Dia is hopeful the projects would be given consideration for the FiT. He said the first project was already inspected by the DoE after completing 80% of its electromechanical component.
“There’s an inspection done by the DoE. That has been done and once you get through that, they will endorse your plant to the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) for the final inspection,” he said.
Even ahead of the ERC’s awarding of the certificate of compliance, the two other projects are being constructed.
“We’re proceeding… We are of the impression that it is already signed,” Mr. Dia said, referring to a DoE circular that would extend the granting of the FiT.
He placed the cost of the projects at $45 million each, or a total of $135 million.
Bronzeoak Philippines, Inc., the projects’ proponent, previously said that ThomasLloyd CTI Asia Holdings was the principal financial sponsor. WBE (Hong Kong) International Green Energy Ltd., another shareholder, will provide engineering and construction services. Bronzeoak has since been acquired by AC Energy.
Last week, Energy Undersecretary Jesus Cristino P. Posadas told a forum that the FiT for biomass and run-of-river hydro “may be given consideration for the extension of two years or upon subscription of the set installation target capacity, whichever comes first.”
Mr. Posadas was quoting a speech prepared by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, who earlier said that he was considering the extension for the two technologies, but definitely not for solar and wind.
Biomass projects that were completed by 2016 were awarded a FiT of P6.63 per kilowatt-hour, while those completed last year qualified for the P6.5969 degressed rate.