09 JUNE 2011
W. Visayas warned of power shortage in two to three years
ILOILO CITY -- The rapid expansion of business activity in Western Visayas will put the region’s power supply in a precarious situation in two to three years unless enough new generation plants are built, business leaders here warned.
Rex C. Drilon, vice-president of the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation, said the fast-paced development of key cities in Western Visayas will weigh heavily on the region’s current power generation capacity.
"In the next two to three years, we will be facing another round of power shortage and there is a need now to plan for the future to sustain our needs," Mr. Drilon stressed in a recent briefing.
A report of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) tagged Western Visayas as "the number one contributor to the country’s economic growth" in 2009.
That year, gross regional domestic product grew faster at 5.9% from 4.3% the previous year, latest available NSCB data showed.
In comparison, the entire economy grew by a nearly flat 0.9% in 2009 from 3.8% in 2008.
Mr. Drilon particularly cited Megaworld Corp.’s projects in the 54-hectare old Iloilo airport in Mandurriao district, which will require 15-20 megawatts (MW).
Randy S. Pastolero, operations manager of Panay Electric Co. (PECo), the sole power distributor in Iloilo City, said Megaworld will require 6 MW for its initial construction works in the first quarter of 2012 and another 5 MW for the rest of next year. An additional 4 MW will be needed to power Megaworld’s projects in the first quarter of 2013, he added.
"That’s Megaworld’s requirements in the next two years. We can only imagine the amount of power they would need when they develop the entire area in the next 10 years," Mr. Pastolero said.
Sudden spike in demand
Henry V. Alcalde, vice-president and deputy general manager of Panay Energy Development Corp., said his company noticed a sudden 7% spike in Iloilo’s average annual demand for electricity this year, so far, from 4% last year.
"We can attribute this demand growth to the explosion of suppressed demand brought about by the operation of the [Panay Energy’s] coal-fired power plant. With enough power supply in the market, suppressed demand is surfacing and eating up our capacity," Mr. Alcalde said.
He defined suppressed demand as potential consumers, mostly businesses, who had put economic activity like expansion on hold due to short supply of electricity in the region.
"PECo’s peak demand nowadays is hitting 82 MW because investments that were previously put on hold are now mushrooming. With the rapid growth in demand, our excess capacity will eventually be used up in the coming years," he added.
He said only 12 MW out of the total 164-MW capacity of Panay Energy’s coal-fired power plant has not been committed. This would be used up in two to three years, he added.
Panay Energy, a subsidiary of Global Business Power Corp. of the Metrobank group, operates Panay’s first coal-fired power plant located at Brgy. Ingore in Iloilo City, La Paz.
Of the plant’s net output of 144 MW, 65 MW goes to PECo and 24 MW to Negros Occidental .
The remaining capacity is supplied to electric cooperatives in Antique, Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan and Guimaras.
Iloilo Business Club executive director Ma. Lea Victoria Lara said the proposed 100-MW coal-fired power plant of A. Brown Co., Inc. in Concepcion, Iloilo could help avert the looming power shortage.
But Ms. Lara said more power plants are needed to sustain Western Visayas’ economic growth, as the region cannot rely only on supply from the geothermal fields of Leyte and other power plants in Cebu.
Read article source in Business World Online, June 9, 2011