17 August 2015

EPI to build multibillion wind, solar projects in Subic

EMERGING Power, Inc. (EPI), a renewable energy company, will be putting up multibillion-peso wind and solar power projects at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in line with its expansion from geothermal to solar and wind power.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has approved the entry of EPI into local company Jobin-SQM Inc. (JSI) via the acquisition of a 90 percent stake in the latter, SBMA acting deputy administrator Ronnie R. Yambao said.

The SBMA is the operating and implementing arm of the government for the development of a 670 square kilometer area of Subic Bay Freeport (SBF) into a self-sustaining tourism, industrial, commercial, financial, and investment center to generate employment opportunities.

In 2014, JSI president Nancy Tan signed a 50-year lease agreement with SBMA chairman Roberto Garcia for the development of a wind and solar project on an 800-hectare property on Mt. Sta. Rita, about 8 kilometers away from Olongapo City.

JSI has energy service contracts for 100 megawatts (MW) of solar power and 50 MW of wind power granted by the Department of Energy (DOE).

The Mt. Sta. Rita solar project, worth $200 million, is expected to be operational by June 2016 and is seen to reduce coal consumption by 44,300 tons per year.

A feasibility report by JSI released in March 2015 showed that the site is a suitable location for a solar energy facility that can produce up to 100 MW of power.

The report cited “convenient traffic, superior geographic position and rich solar energy resources” as factors proving the viability of the project.

It said the project meets the increasing demand for energy of the emerging Freeport Zone, while also speeding up the area’s economic and social development.

EPI chairman Antonio Martin Zamora said the project will pave the way for bringing clean and renewable power to SBMA.

“What better way to spark progress and growth to the people of Subic and investors in the country’s first freeport than by making clean and stable power available to them?” said Zamora.

Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC), one of the country’s biggest mining firms, holds a majority share in EPI.

NAC has said in a recent disclosure that it will guarantee the loan facility of EPI for up to P3 billion over a three-year period to finance EPI’s renewable energy projects.

NAC said it has earmarked $60 million for the purchase of JSI and Phase 1 of the project, which will initially be able to generate up to 25 MW of solar power.

EPI is also putting up a 40-MW geothermal power company in Oriental Mindoro, a 10-MW solar project in Camarines Sur, a 2.5-MW biogas project in Quezon; and a 10-MW solar and bunker hybrid project in Northern Palawan. (Ritchie A. Horario, Manila Times)