SMC Global fast-tracks operation of Limay plant

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SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. (SMC Global), the power unit of the San Miguel Group., is willing to fast-track the operation of Unit 1 of its 4 x 150-megawatt (MW) Limay power plant by using diesel instead of coal to augment power supply with the impending Malampaya scheduled maintenance shutdown‎ by the end of the month.

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“Right now, Unit 1 is operating on diesel. It will help even during the Malampaya shutdown this February. It will be able to produce 150 MW but it’s more expensive because the fuel used is diesel,” SMC Global Chairman Ramon Ang said in an interview Tuesday afternoon at the San Miguel office.

The Limay plant has a total capacity of 600 MW when all four units are completed. It will utilize state-of- the-art CFB (circulating fluidized bed) clean coal technology and is targeted to start full commercial operations by August 2018.

Unit 1 should be commissioned by May 2017, Unit 2 by August 2017, Unit 3 by June 2017, and Unit 4 by August 2018.

The Malampaya shutdown will take place from 28 January-16 February. It will affect the generation of electricity
of the natural gas power plants in Batangas, which serve both Luzon and the Visayas.

Ang said that instead of coal, diesel will be used to hasten the operation of Unit 1 for the meantime. He even agreed to staggered payment.

“Even if they pay with the price of coal [instead of diesel, which is more expensive], it’s okay,” he said.

“The 150 MW from Unit 1 using diesel power will help the grid. Secretary Cusi requested to make sure that there will be no shortage during the Malampaya shutdown,” he said.

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi had earlier urged SMC Global to speed up the commissioning of its power plant to help ensure sufficient supply during the shutdown.

Meanwhile, the DOE on Wednesday reminded the public to be mindful of energy efficiency and conservation measures.

“Demand-side management is one of the measures that we are encouraging our consumers to practice. By doing this, our energy consumption is made more efficient and economical, with the beneficial effect ultimately reflected and felt through our electric bills,” the energy chief said.

“When energy efficiency becomes second nature to us, we are able to cushion whatever impact may be caused by spikes in the cost of electricity. For example, despite the upcoming Malampaya maintenance activities this end of the month, we can still be able to lower our electricity bills with ease,” he added.

The DOE has required the affected natural gas power plants to run on alternative or replacement fuel, which is more expensive than natural gas.

“Natural gas as fuel only costs around P4 per kilowatt-hour whereas replacement fuel, such as diesel, costs around P6-P8 per kWh,” Cusi said.

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