Danessa Rivera | The Philippine Star


MANILA, Philippines — The power generating unit of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has secured regulatory approval to proceed with the commercial operations of its coal-fired power plant in Quezon.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has issued Provisional authority to operate (PAO) the 455-megawatt (MW) net San Buenaventura Power Ltd. Co. (SBPL) power plant in Mauban, Quezon.

The PAO allows SBPL – a joint venture project of Meralco Powergen Corp. (MGen) and Thailand’s Electricity Generating Public Co. Ltd. (EGCO) – to begin operations and supply crucial 500-MW gross baseload capacity to the Luzon grid, while completing its requirements.

“This is a welcome development, and one that shows that ERC understands that power demand in Luzon is steadily increasing, and the conditions show that we are in dire need of additional baseload capacity. SBPL’s 500 MW will prove to be a significant contributor for Meralco to fulfill its mandate to provide adequate, reliable supply of electricity at the least cost,” Meralco vice president and head of Regulatory Management Jose Ronald Valles said in a statement.

SBPL was targeted to start operating on Sept. 15, but commercial operations hit a snag as the ERC deferred the issuance of a certificate of compliance (COC) due to questions raised by the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) on SBPL’s utilization of water rights.

The COC, which has a term of five years, is necessary before any generation company can commence commercial operations.

Meralco and SBPL provided the NWRB with satisfactory clarifications, which NWRB accepted and accordingly withdrew its initial statements.

“We were able to provide adequate, factual answers immediately and NWRB responded also as promptly. Now, they are privy to the urgency of the power situation at hand, and hopefully gained new insights that will help them be more circumspect in their succeeding engagements within the power industry or beyond,” Valles said.

Meralco said SBPL’s incoming capacity would prove critical in the coming months, particularly in light of the upcoming scheduled maintenance shutdowns of Luzon’s biggest power generation suppliers.

Ilijan Unit 1, which has a capacity of 600 MW, is set to go on planned maintenance for 13 days on Oct. 3 to 15, and curtail its capacity from Oct. 16 to 18.

The 647-MW Sual 2 is also slated to shutdown for 30 days from Oct. 19 to Nov. 17, while the 250-MW San Lorenzo Module 50 is scheduled to go on maintenance for five days on Oct. 26 to 30.

Masinloc 2, with a 344-MW capacity, will also be on scheduled outage for 35 days, beginning Oct. 30 to Dec. 4.

The country’s biggest natural gas facility, Malampaya, will likewise temporarily stop supplying fuel to generation facilities on Oct. 12 to 15.

Malampaya supplies more than 40 percent of Meralco’s power requirement, and provides natural gas fuel for Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo, Ilijan, San Gabriel and Avion.