06 June 2014

Meralco pushes forward reparations at Subic plant site

The Subic freeport zone is likely the final plant site for the planned 600-megawatt coal fired power facility being lead-developed by the power generation arm of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) – primarily when a pending court case on the project eventually clears up.

A document from Meralco has hinted that the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is set to ratify the Lease and Development Agreement (LDA) for the proposed plant site “to reflect additional terms.” No further details were provided.

It must be culled that the original LDA was declared invalid by the Court of Appeals (CA), alongside its ruling on a Writ of Kalikasan filed by groups opposing the project.

The petition was filed before the Supreme Court, but it was subsequently remanded to the CA for hearing on the merits of the case.

The proposed 600-megawatt power facility was initially targeted for commercial operation by 2015, and it could have placed Luzon grid on ‘safe ground’ versus the feared power interruptions especially during the high-demand months of summer.

The project is to be undertaken under corporate vehicle RP Energy. Meralco PowerGen is the majority equity holder, while its partners are Therma Power, Inc. of the Aboitiz group and Taiwan Cogeneration International Corporation.

On pre-construction activities, the Meralco document indicated that “RP Energy is proceeding with certain development activities that are not hampered by the SC proceedings.”

As of March this year, it was emphasized that “site preparation work is almost complete and RP Energy has commissioned its contractor to conduct preliminary engineering works on the power plant in order to reduce the overall construction period.”

An environmental compliance certificate (ECC) was already issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the two blocks of 300-megawatt electricity generating units designed for the facility.

Full implementation, however, could not move forward until the legal hurdle of the pending Writ of Kalikasan is resolved by the courts.

While the appellate court has initially denied the Writ of Kalikasan petition, it conversely noted “certain deficiencies in the process of the DENR in its issuance of the original ECC for the 300MW coal-fired plant” which has also affected the LDA for the project site. (Myrna Velasco, Manila Bulletin)