Meralco JV river hydro project breaks ground in Quezon
MANILA ELECTRIC Co. (Meralco) said its joint venture company Pure Meridian Hydropower Corp. had broken ground in Lalawinan, Quezon province for a 3-megawatt (MW) run-of-river mini-hydropower plant.
The Lalawinan plant is the second project under the joint venture (JV), which is a partnership between Meralco and Repower Energy Development Corp., a unit of Pure Energy Holdings Corp.
In a statement, Pure Energy quoted Pure Meridian Chairman Alfredo S. Panlilio as saying: “We reiterate our earlier pronouncement that our investments in the various run-of-river mini hydro projects are a manifestation of our unwavering commitment to support the development of the renewable energy sector.”
The first project, the Pulanai, Bukidnon mini-hydro project, had its groundbreaking in December 2016. The Lalawinan plant is Meralco’s first foray in run-of-river hydropower in Luzon.
“It is our hope that these various initiatives will contribute in providing a stable, clean and reliable energy source,” said Mr. Panlilio, who is also Meralco senior vice-president.
The Lalawinan project is expected to cost P700 million and generate more than 200 jobs during construction, mostly hired from the local community. It will connect to the transmission infrastructure of Repower’s Upper Labayat 3-MW mini-hydro power project through a 10.5-kilometer 69-kilovolt (kV) line.
The power plant will have two generating units with terminal voltage of 4.16 kV and with total output of 3 MW using a 5-megavolt ampere 4.16/69 kV step-up transformer. Its expected annual power generation will be at least 16 gigawatt-hours from the renewable energy source.
Dexter Y. Tiu, chief executive officer of Pure Meridian and Pure Energy, said the new project supports his companies’ commitment to promote awareness, understanding and use of run-of-river hydropower as “the best renewable energy resource due to its near baseload nature.”
“Our goal is to provide sustainable alternatives to balance the country’s over dependence on fossil fuels, while preserving our natural watersheds,” he said.
The project aims to avail of the run-of-river hydropower feed-in-tariff (FiT) rate, which the Energy Regulatory Commission set at P5.90 for every kilowatt-hour exported to the grid. The rate has been reduced this year to P5.8705 per kWh as called for by the FiT rules. The incentive scheme ends this year. Run-of-river hydropower is the cheapest renewable energy resource being charged under FiT.
Lalawinan is Repower’s third hydropower groundbreaking so far this year.
Pure Energy’s hydropower arm has several operational hydropower plants in Laguna. It is aiming to break ground on two more hydropower projects this year, and 15 more in the next three years.
“After cementing a foothold in the baseload hydropower and geothermal sphere, Pure Energy plans to venture into the intermittent solar energy for a balance portfolio of renewable energy projects,” Pure Energy said.
Meralco is the country’s largest electric distribution company with coverage of 36 cities and 75 municipalities, including Metro Manila. It serves more than six million customers.
Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT). Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. -- Victor V. Saulon