CEBU business leaders count on ample power supply and baseload reserves from new power plant facilities to help sustain the province’s rapid growth and development.
In an interview, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) incoming president Mark Ynoc emphasized how vital energy is as the country’s economy bounces back post-pandemic, “especially in preparation for the anticipated arrival of investments and increase in population growth.”
Data showed that Cebu posted a growth rate of 6.9 percent in 2022 led by Metro Cebu and its highly urbanized cities of Lapu-Lapu (13.2 percent), Mandaue (9 percent), and Cebu City (8.4 percent).
Pre-pandemic, the National Economic and Development Authority identified Cebu’s potential for new investments in heavy and extractive industries, including shipbuilding and allied industries, automotive and parts manufacturing, aerospace parts, resource-based industries, and fabricated metals.
“When there is a pressing need for power, then we definitely need additional generation capacity and infrastructure,” Ynoc said.
However, there’s fear of power shortages during the Western Visayas blackouts that had cost Iloilo alone P5.7 billion in economic losses. This was exacerbated by the Panay Island power outages, when the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) projected a decline of some 178 megawatts (MW) in the power reserves of Central Philippines.
With an available generating capacity of 2,411 MW and a system peak demand of 2,117 MW, Visayas had a margin of only 269 MW as power reserves in January 26—the thinnest compared to Luzon’s 3,608 MW and Mindanao’s 802 MW—according to NGCP.
Business leaders in Cebu were hopeful for new power plants coming on grid with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) issuance last December 2023 of Certificates of Endorsement for 21 projects for system impact study (SSI)—a prerequisite for the Energy Regulation Commission’s approval to operate a new power generation plant.
“More power supply is always better,” said Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) President Charles Kenneth Co.
Meanwhile, former MCCI president Steven Yu noted that “while we are scaling up on our RE [renewable energy] generation capacity, this will help stabilize our power supply versus demand and avoid costly blackouts. The negative environmental effects are being outweighed by the positive impact to the economy and other offsetting carbon reduction measures.”
Proof of which is Therma Visayas Inc.’s (TVI) 169 MW coal plant expansion in Toledo City. Up for SSI, it will have a Circulating Fluidized Bed technology that is also used in Units 1 and 2 to minimize the harmful coal dust emissions.
That’s how Aboitiz “being a responsible corporate citizen, will surely use green technology to keep the coal clean,” CCCI’s Co cited.
According to NGCP Assistant Vice President and Head for Public Affairs Atty. Cynthia Perez-Alabanza, “All roads lead to Cebu when we talk about power consumption in the Visayas.”
Referring to the province’s repeated peak demand last May and December 2023, she pointed out that “now, with the economy fully reopening, we are witnessing a substantial surge in power requirements. All the more Cebu needs more power plants.”
For Abner G. Bardoquillo, NGCP network operations senior manager for Visayas systems operations, these plants will be helpful in order for Cebu not to rely on supplies from neighboring islands given the investments flow and population growth.
Former CCCI president Felix Taguiam earlier said that if Cebu is energy self-sufficient, it could also alleviate the issue of costly electricity.
Previously, the DOE and NGCP cited Cebu as among with big generation capacity additions via power plants that can continuously produce electricity at scale.