By Myrna M. Velasco
Zabaleta-led Biopower is pushing for the completion of at least three biomass power projects worth $156 million (or P8.4 billion at current US dollar-Philippine peso exchange rate), so the project firm can avail of the extended degressed biomass feed-in-tariff (FIT) rate of P6.6959 per kilowatt hour (kWh), as enforced by the Department of Energy.
In an interview with reporters, Biopower Vice Chairman Don Mario Y. Dia noted that the 20-megawatt San Carlos biomass power project will be the first to reach commissioning phase before the end of this year.
The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract of the planned facility was first bestowed to China Machinery Engineering Wuxi Co. Ltd., but due to slips in the implementation timeline and the swell in the project cost that already reached US$55 million, Biopower eventually decided to end its contract with the Chinese firm.
“We’re now hopefully commissioning before the year ends for the first 20 megawatts… our EPC contractor should have been Wuxi, but we already terminated the contract,” Dia said.
The two other biomass plants – La Carlota and Northern Negros projects, are both targeted to be on stream next year; with La Carlota anticipated on-line June next year; and Northern Negros (Manapla project) towards the end of 2019.
The EPC contracts of the projects had already been awarded to European firm Pöyry – with San Carlos and La Carlota utilizing the same technology and boiler; while Northern Negros will be equipped with a different boiler.
For all three biomass ventures, Dia disclosed that their company is partly leaning on the support of three expatriates in their team.
On the project’s financing, there was already a commitment for the whole chunk from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), according to the company executive.
Tariff-wise, Dia explained that it shall be anchored on the degressed FIT rate plus adjustment in the consumer price index (CPI), which he deemed should have already been raised since last year.