CONCEPCION, Iloilo: The Department of Energy is urging Palm Concepcion Power Corp. (PCPC) to expand its coal power project in Iloilo into three phases to meet growing power demand in the Visayas region over the next two years.
In ceremonies held in Concepcion, Iloilo on Thursday, PCPC formally started the construction of the first phase of its 270-megawatt coal power project.
Under the first phase, the company will develop the first plant with an initial 135 megawatts of power capacity, ready for commissioning by June 2016. The cost of the first phase is estimated at P13.5 billion.
Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla told reporters the government is encouraging the company to expand the project by two more phases of development to fulfill rising demand for electricity in the Visayas region.
“The Visayas, as we have seen in the past years, is experiencing fast economic growth despite facing hurdles on its way up. PCPC’s power plant is not only a response to the call of the government to augment the power supply in the country, it also supports the booming economy in the region,” Petilla said.
Supply of power in the region in 2016 will be secure once the first plant of the coal project is commissioned, but it would be ideal if the company could also start the second phase of the project immediately for additional supply, he said.
“It makes more sense to push through with the second plant, even a third plant for that matter,” he added.
PCPC president Roel Castro said in a separate interview that the company is considering expanding the capacity of the aforementioned overall coal power project by more than 400 megawatts.
“Right now, we’re designed up to the second phase but in terms of area we can accommodate a third one. We always feel if there is a need for the market and if we feel there is a market for the second one and we can play with the right timing, we will proceed,” Castro said, adding that the third one may have a capacity of another 135 megawatts, bringing in a combined capacity of 405 megawatts.
Castro said the company has not yet identified a timetable for phase 2 of the project.
Earlier this year, Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Electric Power Purchase Agreement between Negros Oriental I Electric Cooperative Inc. and Palm Concepcion Power Corp.
To date, PCPC has secured agreements with about eight electric cooperatives in the Visayas region to buy more than 100 megawatts from the supply to be provided by the first plant of PCPC.