Business: Hasten Zambo Electric Plant

Worried that the debilitating power supply crisis in Mindanao would curb further economic growth and result in major cutbacks in earnings and employment, major business groups in the Zamboanga peninsula have issued an urgent appeal to the national government to ensure that the P12-billion 100-megawatt San Ramon Power Plant in Zamboanga City could be made to start operating by 2015, or a year ahead of schedule.

In a resolution passed during the 8th Zamboanga Peninsula Business Conference held in Ozamiz City last July 18-19, the Zamboanga Peninsula Chapter of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Zamboanga Peninsula Business Council - composed of the chambers of commerce in Zamboanga City, Ozamiz City, Isabela City, Pagadian, Dipolog, Sulu, Basilan, and Misamis Occidental, reiterated earlier recommendations by economic experts that sustaining the growth of business, and thus employment for the people in the area, require securing a reliable baseload supply of electricity.

"The economic progress and the improvement of the quality of life of the people of Zamboanga City and the rest of the Peninsula are heavily dependent on a reliable source of baseload power," said Atty. Arsenio Gonzalez, Jr. - a director of the Zamboanga City Chamber of Commerce and former Vice Chairman of the Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Development Council.

The business groups pushed for an earlier completion and start of operation by 2015 of the San Ramon coal-fired power plant, estimated to cost P12 billion. The coal-fired power plant was originally scheduled to come online by 2016 yet.

Regional economic centers in Mindanao, including Zamboanga City and the rest of the Zamboanga peninsula, have suffered from daily power outages in the summer of 2010 and 2012 mainly because of the greatly reduced power generating capacity of the Agus and Pulangi hydroelectric power facilities that currently supply more than half of Mindanao's electricity requirement.

The Business Conference resolution called for the full rehabilitation of the Agus and Pulangi plants as well as the interconnection of the Mindanao Grid with the Luzon-Visayas Grid by 2013 and the Intra-ASEAN Grid by 2017.

The San Ramon coal-fired power plant is is being developed and will be operated by San Ramon Power, Inc. (SRPI) - a wholly owned subsidiary of Alsons Consolidated Resources (ACR) -- the publicly-listed holding company of the Mindanao-focused Alcantara Group.

The Alcantara Group also operates the 100-MW Western Mindanao Power Corporation (WMPC) diesel power plant in Sangali, Zamboanga City and the 55-MW Southern Philippines Power Corporation (SPPC) diesel plant in Alabel, Sarangani. The group has also recently reacquired ownership of the 102-MW Iligan Diesel Power Plant which will come back into operation once turnover has been completed. The Alcantara Group has likewise commenced construction of a 200-MW coal-fired power facility in Maasim, Sarangani that will be operational by 2015.

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