Government plans to close old Mindanao coal plants

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The government is planning to acquire coal-fired power plants in Mindanao, especially the older ones, in order to shut them down once the Agus-Pulangi hydropower plants start running at higher capacity, said Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III.

Speaking at a virtual economic briefing organized by the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC, Dominguez said that though Mindanao still has sufficient power, the large hydro system in the region has not been maintained and it is still producing below capacity. 

Dominguez relayed that the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have developed a plan to improve the generating capacity of the Agus river system and evaluate the possibility of creating a fund to acquire and eventually close down old coal plants in the region. 

The government also plans to rehabilitate the Agus-Pulangi hydro power plant system before its privatization. 

Though a facility of the National Power Corporation, the Agus and Pulangi power plants were not up for privatization under Republic Act 9136 or Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). The EPIRA likewise prohibits the government from being involved in power generation.

Dominguez said that the DOF-DOE team is also working with the Asian Development Bank in funding the shift to renewable energy (RE) in Mindanao, with the goal of having at least 90% of power coming from RE sources. Currently, RE only accounts for 30% of Mindanao’s generation mix.

Among the coal-fired power plants operating in the region are Alsons Power Group’s 105-megawatt (MW) facility in Maasim, Sarangani; San Miguel Corporation’s Malita plant in Davao Occidental, Aboitiz Power Corporation’s Therma South coal plant in Davao City, and the GNPower Kauswagan plant in Lanao Del Sur.

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