By MYRNA M. VELASCO
The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is also taking its toll on the targeted commercial commissioning of the first phase of the 1,336-megawatt Dinginin coal-fired power plant in Mariveles, Bataan, a joint venture of the Ayala and Aboitiz groups.
In a briefing with reporters, Robinson P. Descanzo, training operations head of the Independent Electricity Market Operators of the Philippines Inc. (IEMOP), indicated that GNPower Dinginin informed them that the Chinese engineers who will be part of the plant’s testing and commissioning processes would not be able to fly in because of the COVID-anchored travel ban that was imposed.
IEMOP is the operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), in which all power plants are mandated to register their capacities as trading participant in the spot market once they reach commercial operations.
Descanzo said the plant’s commercial operations date had been moved from April to June this year, hence, the plant’s capacity cannot be expected to beef up summer power supply.
The Dinginin plant’s first phase of 668MW is anticipated to contribute to Luzon grid’s power supply by the second half of this year; while the second generating unit of another 668MW is targeted on-line in the next six months or early part of 2021.
The COVID-linked dilemma of the Chinese engineers was confirmed by Director Mario Marasigan of the Electric Power Industry Management Bureau (EPIMB) of the Department of Energy (DOE), hence, he noted that the capacity of the Dinginin plant was no longer factored in as part of the expected additional supply for summer.
He added that the facility is also hobbled by a transmission problem on its capacity wheeling to the grid, although he indicated that this is already being addressed at this point.
The developer-firm of the US$1.7 billion coal-fired power project has engaged Shanghai Electric Power Corporation, a Chinese firm as its engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the facility. It is equipped with super critical boiler technology.
When financial closing was announced for the project in December 2017, the original completion date targeted for phase 1 was actually second half of 2019; then the second phase would have been on stream by 2020.
The Dinginin plant is the last major power project that will be reaching commercial operations before the energy department’s roster of projects would turn deficient when it comes to giga-capacity level of installations.