• URC to build P2.5-B biomass power plant

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    Food and beverage firm Universal Robina Corp. (URC) will build a P2.5-billion energy facility in Negros Occidental, which is meant to support the firm’s sugar milling operations in the province.

    Marking URC’s official entry into the power generation business, the construction of the 46-megawatt bagasse-fired power plant in Negros Occidental will start within the month.

    RC signed a 25-year renewable energy operating contract with the Department of Energy for the facility, which is expected to start operations in August this year.

    ”Through this power plant, we will not only reduce the use of fossil fuel, but also sustain the livelihood of many sugarcane farmers in the URC Sonedco area,” said Rene Cabati, business unit general manager of URC Sugar.

    The plant will use bagasse, a sugarcane by-product of the company’s sugar mill in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, which can produce 9,000 tons of sugar cane a day.

    The sugar mill will need only half the capacity of the biomass-fed power facility, so URC plans to sell the rest of the power supply to the national grid. The mill at the Sonedco area is one of five mills owned and operated by URC.

    URC earlier said it planned to sell to the national grid 4 to 5 MW in the first year of the plant’s operation, and 16 to 22 MW by 2015.

    A pioneer in the local snack-food industry, URC is part of the Gokongwei-led conglomerate JG Summit Holdings Inc.

    URC is also building a $35-million ethanol distillery plant in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental that will produce some 100,000 liters per day, or 30 million liters of ethanol fuel a year.

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