EPI’s $185-M geothermal plant goes on stream in 2016

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THE $185-million geothermal power plant project of Emerging Power Inc. (EPI) in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro is scheduled to be operational in the third quarter of 2016.

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EPI chairperson Martin Antonio Zamora said the plant will supply an additional 40 megawatts (MW) of power to the whole island of Mindoro.

“EPI is committed to support the government’s effort to fast-track the construction and completion of more power plants— especially renewable power plants—to address the anticipated power crisis in the coming years,” Zamora said in a statement.

The Mindoro geothermal project is being built on a multi-use zone that straddles the barangays of Montelago, Montemayor and Melgar-B in the municipality of Naujan.

Within four years, the geothermal project is expected to result in as much as P2.1 billion in savings (or by 40 percent from P11 per kilowatt-hour to P6.58 per kWh) in electricity bills for the people of Mindoro.

Zamora said the geothermal project will help stabilize power supply and bring down electricity costs in the island-province, which is currently dependent on bunker fuel for its power generation.

He said that the high costs of diesel and bunker fuel have been jacking up the cost of electricity in Mindoro and all over the Philippines’ main power grids, and this will likely go on for many years.

Similarly, the Small Power Utilities Group in off-grid islands, which is 95 percent dependent on diesel and bunker-generated electricity, has seen relatively high power generation costs.

The Mindoro project will also help spawn downstream industries like aquaculture and eco-tourism. Thus, it will boost local employment.

As a renewable energy developer, EPI has received a package of tax incentives from the Board of Investments (BOI).

The BOI’s grant of incentives to EPI is seen as an indication of the Aquino administration’s resolve to speed up the establishment of more renewable energy facilities to head off an anticipated nationwide power crisis in the summer of 2015.

“We thank the BOI for granting EPI the tax incentives without undue delay,” said Zamora.

With strong support from the BOI and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which already gave EPI the green light to proceed with the project, Zamora expressed confidence that the company would also be able to secure the go signal from the Energy Regulatory Commission and from other government agencies.

The BOI incentives include income tax holiday for seven years, duty-free importation of renewable energy machinery, materials and equipment; cash incentive of renewable energy developers for missionary electrification; and tax credit on domestic capital equipment and services, among others.

The BOI perks are given to encourage local and foreign companies to put up renewable power facilities under Republic Act 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla earlier welcomed the entry of EPI’s geothermal project in Mindoro’s energy mix, saying that “geothermal is a big step towards realizing our dream of sustained and affordable electricity.”

House energy committee chair Rep. Rey Umali also commended EPI, saying, “The Mindoro geothermal project is the embodiment of the promise of Epira for the Philippines to have reliable, sustainable, renewable, and affordable energy.”

EPI, which is responsible for the exploration and development of the geothermal project, has tapped the expertise of Geo-Survey Institute of Iceland and the geothermal department of the Institut Teknologi Bandung of Indonesia to carry out the renewable energy project.

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