Suweco Can Invest P1.1B for Catanduanes Hydro Plant–ERC

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it recently approved Sunwest Water and Electric Co. Inc.’s (Suweco) petition to increase the project costs of its three mini hydro projects in Catanduanes.

Suweco’s three mini hydroelectric-power plants have a total capacity of 6.4 megawatts (MW).

In its 12-page order, ERC said Suweco petitioned ERC for partial reconsideration and modification of its January 19, 2009 order.

In its petition, Suweco revised the earlier project costs to P1.106 billion from P729.423 million for the 2.3-MW Solong mini hydroelectric-power plant in San Miguel, 1.5-MW Hitoma 1 mini hydroelectric-power plant in Caramoran, and 2.6-MW Capipian mini hydroelectric- power plant in San Miguel, Catanduanes.

The revised project cost, according to Suweco, would have an impact of P5.3955 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) from an earlier project cost impact of P3.6642/kWh.

Suweco said it had to increase its project costs from its original estimates due to force-majeure events such as soil erosion brought by typhoons, increase in the price of construction materials and the change in its project plans.

“Suweco has opted to advance the construction of the Capipian mini-hydro plant in lieu of Hitoma 2 [1.58 MW] due to its larger capacity and the latter’s inaccessibility to civil works,” ERC said.

ERC added that the Hitoma 2, which is located in the upper cascade of the Hitoma River, was deemed not feasible for development at this time due to terrain reconfiguration caused by typhoons and soil erosion.

Sunwest will spend P404.17 million for the Solong project, P242.48 million for the Hitoma 1 mini-hydro plant, and P459.72 million for the Capipian mini hydro project.

The company told ERC that most of the civil-works portion of the Solong and Hitoma 1 mini-hydro plants is almost complete and is expected to be commercially available within the fourth quarter of 2009.

It said the development of the access road for the Capipian mini hydro has also started and its anticipated commercial availability is expected to be within the third quarter of 2009.

Sunwest is part of the Sunwest Group of Companies (SGC), which is chaired by Albay businessman Elizaldy Co. SGC has diversified into the energy-distribution business such as the construction and operation of electric facilities.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes earlier said Suweco’s project will help stabilize the electricity supply in Catanduanes, as the mini hydropower projects will contribute to the government’s goal of achieving energy independence by reducing dependence on imported fuel.

More important, according to Reyes, the projects will utilize a renewable form of energy, therefore giving the benefits through the reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions.

“The initiative and participation of local investors in the power-distribution sector is consistent with the current administration’s thrust to tap the private sector to develop the country’s indigenous-energy resources and achieve energy independence.

“These additional capacities will surely contribute in addressing the increasing electricity demand in Catanduanes and Antique,” Reyes said.

Written by Paul Anthony A. Isla / Reporter
Friday, 25 September 2009 02:31

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