DAVAO CITY—A top official of Aboitiz Power Corp. (AboitizPower announced here plans to expand Therma South Inc.’s (TSI) newly inaugurated 300-megawatt (MW) base-load power plant by at least another 300 MW.
TSI is a subsidiary of AboitizPower.
“We definitely have plans of expanding it. We have extra land. We all have the necessary approvals in place. We have plans to expand for additional 300 MW or maybe a little bit more. It’s important that we time it properly,” AboitizPower CEO Erramon I. Aboitiz said in an interview with reporters.
The power plant in Barangay Binugao, Toril district, runs on coal.
The first 150-MW unit of the power plant started commercial operations in September 2015, but was only inaugurated on Friday.
The second unit is undergoing reliability tests and will be on full commercial operations by February.
Base-load power plants can consistently generate power needed to satisfy the minimum level of demand on a grid over 24 hours. These plants typically run at all times through the year, except in case of repairs or maintenance.
Aboitiz said it took the company five-and-a-half years to build the power plant and expanding it would be much cheaper and faster.
“We already have the existing facilities, but bulk would still have to be invested. Maybe, we will spend around $2.5 million per MW. It’s 10 percent cheaper. Luckily, we already have the land permit and approval. Hopefully, if we make a decision to build another, it will be much faster,” he said.
The power plant, which costs P30 billion, currently supplies power to more than 20 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities in Mindanao. These cover a significant portion of the power supply to the cities of Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Zamboanga, Butuan, Kidapawan, Tagum, Koronadal, Digos, Pagadian and Cotabato, among others.
In addition, the plant supplies power to the Davao region; the provinces of Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Agusan and Surigao; the Zamboanga peninsula; and parts of Bukidnon and Misamis.
“When this plant becomes fully operational, we can count on it to consistently produce 300 MW of base-load power, which means that this capacity can be tapped into anytime, rain or shine, with very minor fluctuations,” he said.
“To emphasize just how significant this is, this plant’s dependable capacity is roughly equivalent to one-fifth of the Mindanao grid’s highest peak demand in 2015—and it is already delivering power to areas at the end of the grid, such as Sarangani, General Santos and the Zamboanga peninsula,” Aboitiz said.
This power project forms part of the company’s commitment to support the growth of Mindanao and indicates the positive impact of government reforms in the energy sector.
“Following the project’s groundbreaking and construction, other private power producers have started to invest in Mindanao and we hope their entry in the next couple of years will eventually lead to a steady and reliable supply of power in this region,” Aboitiz added.
There are at least 11 power projects in Mindanao that will come online between 2016 and 2020 that are envisioned to produce at least another 675.30 MW of capacity, which will be more than enough to cover the projected increase in demand for those years.
As it is not dependent on weather conditions, the Davao base-load plant is able to continue generating much-needed power even with Mindanao experiencing dry spells caused by El Niño this year and the droughts occurring roughly once every decade.
Before the Davao power plant, Mindanao sourced more than 50 percent of its power requirement from government-owned hydropower plants. This caused seasonal power shortages in Mindanao during the dry months.