Malaya plant buyer is battery storage investor in Zamboanga

Published May 11, 2021, 12:19 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Fort Pilar Energy Inc., which is the winning buyer of the 650-megawatt Malaya thermal power facility, is a new company that currently has investment of P5.0 billion for 100-megawatt hour (MWh) battery energy storage system (BESS) facility in Zamboanga Peninsula, according to asset-seller Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation.

Fort Pilar Energy’s win in the negotiated divestment of the Malaya plant on May 7 this year came as a major surprise in the power sector, because it had beaten more entrenched player AC Energy Corporation (ACEN) of the Ayala group in that privatization exercise of the government.

The new company, which was incorporated in 2019, tendered a purchase price of P3.123 billion versus Ayala’s P2.22 billion bid – and both offers have been way above the minimum offer price of P1.845 billion that was set for the Malaya plant by the PSALM Board chaired by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

In a statement to the media, Fort Pilar Energy Inc President Joseph Omar A. Castillo noted that “the Malaya plant further bolsters the growing energy asset portfolio of Fort Pilar Energy.”

He added that the company envisions “a modern energy facility in the site to strengthen the power situation in Luzon.”

Prior to its sale, the Malaya plant was being depended upon as “must run unit” or the power generating facility that the system operator can call for dispatch when there would be sudden tightening of supply in the country’s biggest power grid.

The buyer will already have the sole discretion on what it wants to utilize the plant for – and one prospect seen is for it to serve the ancillary services needs of Luzon grid.

On Fort Pilar Energy’s BESS facility, which will cater to the ancillary services or power reserve needs of Zamboanga, this is targeted for commercial operation date (COD) by first quarter of 2022, according to Castillo.

The Fort Pilar Energy chief executive similarly stated that the firm is planning to put up “modern multi-fuel power generators running on high efficiency and low emission (HELE) technologies that will further improve power stability in Mindanao.”

Documents submitted with the Department of Energy (DOE) on the company’s energy projects showed that Fort Pilar Energy Inc. was formerly called Hill Trench Power Inc. and it has set on blueprint projects on BESS installations as well as power plant facilities.

It was in November 2019 when Fort Pilar Energy was endorsed by the energy department to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on its targeted ventures into power generation, distribution as well as the supply and retail segments of the restructured electricity sector.

The company then had authorized capital stock of P1.0 billion, divided into 10 million shares with a par value of P100 per share.