Bold power plan attracts more potential investors

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Bold power plan attracts more potential investors

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More energy developers have eyed investments in Bohol which vision of reliable, resilient and affordable island-based power generation is boldly pursued by the provincial leadership.

Gov. Edgar Chatto is absolute in preparing the province for surely soaring electricity demand in near and far future with present and upcoming major industry and economic modifiers at equally aggressive pace.

The governor emphasized that reliability means power is available when needed, resiliency, facilities are climate-proof; and affordability, lest cost to the consumers.

Capitol even is willing to partner with right investors thru province-owned lots which can be utilized for energy facilities, the Bohol leader told the interested developers in the second and concluding Power Investment Forum at Bohol Tropics on Thursday.

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The forum added five more to the folder of potential investors, several of them already expressing strong intent in the first proposal presentation in February.

They are the Windflower Bioenergy, COSMO Solar Energy, EOB-Consultants, Green Earth Enersource Corporation and Energy Development Corporation.

The WindFlower, represented by its board director, Felipe Abejuela, Jr., offered a $62.4 million 20-megawatt biomass power plant in two phases at 10mw each.

The COSMO completed the first solar-powered mall in Bacolod City and is building the 5.67mw first solar power plant in Iloilo, accoding to its president, Rudy Golez.

Project proponents are mostly domestic corporations with foreign principals or partners based in India, Korea and the US, among others.

Reinerio Lastimoso, president of Green Earth, proposed a biomass-fueled energy generation, too, at two installments with 5mw each at a total cost of P500 million in Carmen.

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Based on its profile, the Green Earth appears to be the power business arm of the Agusan Plantation Inc. (API) Group, under which is the Agumil Philippines, Inc. operating the Bohol palm oil mill in Carmen powered by biomass from oil palm residuals.

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The EOB is focusing on investing in Bohol while identifying other Visayas areas for potential power projects, said financial investment consultant Exequiel dela Peña.

Each company profile and initial proposal presentation was followed by a panel discussion led by the governor, other capitol officials and members of the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG).

Chatto was joined by Provincial Board Members Elpidio Jala, chairman of the public utilities committee of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), Cesar Tomas Lopez, Tomas Abapo, Jr., Venzencio Arcamo and Madelone Rengel, and Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio II.

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The board members represented the SP and its presiding officer, Vice Gov. Concepcion Lim.

The province also gives premium to the technical viability of the proposals for sustainability, aside from their economic advantages, like cheaper finished product cost, and other impacts.

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Chatto made clear Bohol’s direction to make island-based power generation maximized and sustained instead of just relying on the existing major supply transmitted here from Leyte geothermal sources.

Bohol learned seriously and fast from the literally total dark aftermath of Yolanda which counted among its immense devastations the destruction of Leyte power facilities.

Already in great earthquake ruins weeks to the record howler, the province had been rendered perfectly powerless for a month.

As in the first forum, the BEDAG, which includes the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), presented Bohol’s prevailing power situation, load demand forecast and supply strategies, among others.

Led by the governor, the BEDAG likewise consists of representatives from the three local distribution utilities which are BOHECO I and II and Bohol Light Company. Inc. (BLCI), private sector and academe.

Engr. Aljerico Siga of BOHECO I presented the Bohol island power supply plan (BIPSP) which also features the proposed Cebu-Bohol interconnection from Sibonga to Loon, a project now gaining support from the NGCP and Department of Energy (DOE).

The forum was likewise attended by officials and representatives of the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Provincial Tourism Council and non-government organizations, among others.

The first forum last February had proposals also involving renewable energy sources like solar or sun and wind, and variants of coal-fired power technology that could generate from 25mw to 60mw per power plant.

INVESTMENT CLIMATE

Before the energy developers’ presentation, Bohol Investment Promotions Center (BIPC) head Maria Fe Dominise briefed about the province’s investment climate, which requires visionary power planning to to be equal to the global economic order.

She highlighted the economic and development trends and outlooks of the province of over 1.2 million inhabitants as a competitive investment destination.

Bohol’s investment priorities plan features sustainable energy, agro-industry, tourism, service industry which includes the information technology – business process outsourcing (IT-BPO), and environment management and enhancement.

Sustainable agriculture and agro-business, tourism and the projected development of the IT-BPO-knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) industry are considered the economic lampposts in this growing part of the country.

Bohol is now connected to and part of the national fiber optic highway.

With the contractor’s mobilization in May to rush the start of civil works, the Panglao-located new Bohol airport of international standard is one prolific growth system that pressures as many economic activities.

One surefire consequence of the modern airport development in the long run is what economic projectors call the Panglao airport business district, which can substantially consume energy.

A new P2.8 billion world-class Panglao resort complex with retail shopping and other commercial facilities on a 20-hectare lot is soon rising in barangay Doljo.

Called the Modala Panglao Bay Resort, the leisure village mall-cum-resort is expected to open in the final quarter of this year.

Infrastructures like tourism convergence roads are worked on to widen the hospitality industry and deepen its grassroot penetration that is directed to inclusive growth.

Finance-wise, Bohol has now 34 major banks with 70 offices and branches and a total deposit of P20.5 billion as of June 2012 alone.

Opportunities include upcoming and forthcoming major projects like the new airport, Alburquerque sanitary landfill, modern Gallares hospital, new provincial capitol complex, new integrated sports complex, PPP-driven tourism development, bulk water supply, and integrated agricultural processing center.

In addition are the development of the cruise ship port, tourism enterprise and special economic zones, coconut processing center, Ubay feeder airport for agriculture and tourism while accommodating an aeronautical training center, Mt. Banat-i heroes view park where an earthquake memorial will also rise, expanded watershed management, and improvement of ports.

Assured power generation is thus not just among the priorities but necessary to make other opportunities happen or hastened, according to growth indicators.

In the forum, even the Nationa Irrigation Administration (NIA) mulled the utilization of certain strategic dams for power generation, too.

Chatto ordered the BEDAG to coordinate with NIA on the possibility as the province, which is issuing the guidelines of the execution of its energy development plan, is very open to partnership.

Meanwhile, the provincial board on Friday approved the nomination of government representatives to the board of the Bohol Light Company, Inc. and Bohol Water Utilities, Inc., both existing joint venture partnerships of the province and private sector investor.

Named in separate resolutions by Board Member Jala are ex-Gov. David Tirol and ex-Provincial Atty. Inocentes Lopez for the BLCI board and lawyer Antonio Amora, Jr. and Engr. Emigdio Acierto, who heads the BEDAG Technical Working Group, for the BWUI board. (By Ven rebo Arigo)

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