By Myrna M. Velasco
In the greenfield-brownfield battle royale on the forthcoming competitive selection process (CSP) of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the 414-megawatt San Gabriel combined cycle gas-fired power plant of First Gen Corporation is being lined up to join the auction process.
First Gen President Francis Giles B. Puno said the “young age” of the San Gabriel plant will still very much qualify it in the competitive bidding that Meralco will be undertaking for its targeted new power supply agreement.
A CSP exercise is a mandated policy for distribution utilities like Meralco in contracting for capacity that will become part of their overall supply portfolio. That had been based on a recent ruling of the Supreme Court on PSAs to be underwritten by power utilities.
In the next round of CSP for Meralco, the target is to corner 1,200-megawatt of capacity that shall be aligned for its future power supply needs – with prescribed delivery in 2024.
In the original terms of reference for this CSP, Meralco just opted to entertain greenfield or new power projects, but the Department of Energy (DOE) interjected and had instead prescribed that the contest may be opened to both greenfield and brownfield (existing) power plants.
The only condition being laid down by the DOE is for the brownfield plants to be the “newer fleets” – preferably one to five years old, so they won’t be saddled with recurrent forced outages.
Taking cue from that, First Gen noted that its San Gabriel power plant could fit into the criteria, hence, the company is contemplating to participate in the next CSP activity of the country’s biggest power utility firm.
“San Gabriel can qualify for that baseload capacity,” Puno said, in reference to the forthcoming auction of Meralco’s need for additional capacity that it can call on round-the-clock for its load network.
Beyond securing new contracts for existing generating assets, First Gen is also pursuing greenfield power developments that could beef up its existing portfolio by additional 1,200MW via the targeted ventures that it could already advance from blueprints.
“We can also build new plants,” the First Gen executive stressed, adding that “to build a gas-fired plant is shorter than a coal plant, so I think they should accommodate the ability even for a brand new gas-fired unit to come on-line.”
First Gen casts two-tiered investment on its planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facility – starting with floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) and then a more permanent onshore terminal. In tandem with these ventures will be power capacity expansion via its proposed Santa Maria and Saint Joseph power projects.