(STAR) By Johanna T. Natavio (The Freeman) Cebu will be getting some relief from the power shortage that has been bugging the island province for the past several weeks as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will switch on in simple ceremonies today of the first of three units of the 246-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant of the Cebu Energy Development Corp. (CEDC) in Toledo City.

CEDC undertook the construction of 246-megawatt (3 units x 82 MW) clean coal-fired power plant with a total investment of P23 billion.

The plant utilizes state-of-the-art Circulating Fluidized Bed (CFB) boiler technology or clean coal technology, which will ensure that emission levels are well within the standards set by the Clean Air Act, thereby ensuring environmental protection.

With this, Cebu residents will get some relief from the energy crisis as this comes at a time when Cebu and other parts of the country are in the midst of a precarious power situation.

CEDC’s coal-fired power plant is a joint venture of Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC), the power arm of the Metrobank group, Formosa Heavy Industries Corp., Aboitiz Power Corp., and Vivant Power Corp.

The project started in June 2008 and the first 82-megawatt generating unit was connected to the Visayas Grid on February 22, 2010.

Units 2 and 3 are expected to go on line by end of May and the end of December, respectively.

The switch-on ceremony signals the full operation of the 82-MW first unit and comes at a time when Cebu and other provinces in the region are experiencing rotating brownouts causing work stoppages and inadvertent loss of income for businesses and individuals.

In over twenty years, this is the first time that a new base-load capacity for the province is made ready and available, heralding the realization of CEDC’s promise of more reliable and efficient power for Cebu.

Arroyo will be joined by dignitaries from the energy sector led by Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Angelo Reyes, the local officials of Cebu headed by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Toledo City Mayor Arlene Zambo. Other stakeholders in Cebu will also gather as witnesses to this milestone event.

Once the Toledo plant is fully operational, CEDC President Jesus Alcordo said they hope to install a dependable energy supply of 216 MW for the Visayas grid, reducing the unfilled energy demand and reserve deficit to only 17 MW from the current 233 MW.

Cebu’s total power demand is placed at 797 MW with 151 MW as reserve.

Cebu has an embedded capacity of 310 MW sourced from aging diesel-fired power plants while Leyte provides another 254 MW.

“We have a shortfall of 233 MW which we hope to satisfy once we get all three units online and synchronized to the grid,” Alcordo said.

“We decided to put up this power plant with the end-goal of helping improve Cebu’s economy, creating jobs, and helping Cebu move forward with more reliable, stable, and reasonably-priced power,” Alcordo said. — /NLQ (THE FREEMAN)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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