• EDC exploring investment opportunities in South America

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    Ormoc city: The largest producer of geothermal energy in the Philippines, Energy Development Corp. (EDC) is waiting for the direction of the new government for solar energy development program.

    Speaking on the sidelines of the event held in Ormoc City for turning-over the typhoon-resilient school buildings, EDC president and chief operating officer, Richard Tantoco. said that the company has many concession areas for plants with production capacity ranging from 22 MW to 80 MW. “We stand ready to commit and support if the direction is to push it forward,” he said.

    At the same time, the company, a member of the Lopez Group, is also exploring renewable energy (RE) investment opportunities in South America.

    “The time is right” for geothermal project in South America, said Tantoco. Chile, he pointed for example, has recently cancelled two coal-fired power plants. “There are also invitations from other countries in the region to invest in renewable energy, so we’re looking at it,” he said. Mexico’s energy sector, he said, is deregulating and privatizing. “So, we want to take a look,” but he added, “we’re not doing anything yet; we’re studying.”

    EDC, which operates 12 power facilities in five geothermal service contract areas in the Philippines, is also building typhoon-resilient schoolrooms in areas hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda and other recent disasters.

    According to Tantoco, weather proofing of EDC’s Bacman geothermal facilities, which located in the towns of Bacon and Manito in Albay has been completed. The facilities that took the longest time, five months, to restore was the cooling towers. Those had been completely redesigned and re-engineered and then on top of that we have 100 percent spares. So if another Yolanda happens, we have strategic spare,” Tantoco said.

    “We’re doing all the landslide work, indications, we realigned roads, hug water diversion,” he said.

    Looking back, the company’s geothermal facilities in Leyte sustained damage when the super typhoon Yolanda, internationally known as Haiyan, battered the region in November 2013.

    Those plants include the 112.5 megawatts (MW) Tongonan plant and the Unified Leyte geothermal power complex, which consists of 125-MW Upper Mahiao plant, 232.5 MW Malitbog plant, 180 MW Mahanagdong plant, and 51-MW Leyte optimization plants.

    Also EDC is on the processing of technology optimization for its 3 power plants for which build additional 50 MW capacity.

    Just like EDC had done with Bacman from 120 MW to 140 MW, the three plants will have additional capacity are Nasulo from 120 to 140 MW that is with additional 20 MW, Tongonan with 10 MW, and then later on Palinpinon with 20 MW.

    Tantoco said that the optimization would be finished by 1st quarter or second quarter next year for additional output.

    With the additional 50 MW, he said that it would bring another P600 million revenues to the company when it finished.

    The school building is a project of the entire Lopez Group. Construction of typhoon-resilient schoolrooms in areas hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda and other recent disasters will complete by September 2016.

    According to Leonardo Ablaza, manager of the Lopez Group’s school rebuilding program, the program costing around P196 million, calls for the construction of 150 school rooms housed in 66 school buildings in 30 cities and municipalities in 11 provinces — Leyte, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Sorsogon, Albay, Bohol, Bukidnon, Laguna, Iloilo, Capiz and Aklan. The program so far has completed construction of 50 typhoon-resilient school buildings with 118 rooms in Leyte, Samar, Iloilo,Capiz and Bukidnon.

    Sixteen more school buildings with 32 classrooms will reach completion between July and September 2016, when the school rebuilding program is concluded, Ablaza added.

    Five school buildings with 10 rooms are scheduled for completion in July in Leyte; nine buildings with 18 rooms in August in Bicol, Bohol and Aklan; and the remaining two school buildings with 4 rooms in Iloilo in September.

    When the entire project iscompleted, it will benefit an estimated 9,000 students (at an average of 60 students per classroom).

    Designed by third-party experts, the calamity-resilient or the “new normal” classrooms can withstand wind velocity of up to 250 kilometers per hour. The classrooms feature cathedral-type ceilings, wider windows and insulated roofing for better ventilation. Other amenities include the concave-design blackboards, wall-mounted electric fans, LED lights, “genderized” comfort rooms and access for persons with disabilities.

    The Lopez Group companies implemented their Yolanda reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in three phases. In the first two phases, funds pooled from various donors by ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc. – Sagip Kapamilya were tapped to construct new school buildings or to repair damaged schools in Yolanda-hit areas.

    For Phase 3, the Lopez Group companies, led by FPH subsidiaries, have pledged to shoulder the cost of constructing the new typhoon-resilient schools. First Gen committed to fund the construction of 16 school buildings; Rockwell Land Corp., 6; First Balfour Inc., 4; and First Philec Corp., along with ThermaPrime Well Services Inc., 1 each. On the other hand, First Philippine Industrial Park committed P1.3 million for the chairs that will be used in all schools donated by First Gen and First Philec.

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