Monday, August 13, 2007

Geothermal plant in Negros Oriental needs rehab

Cebu, Philippines (14 August) – The Palinpinon Geothermal Plant 1 in Valencia, Negros Oriental is in dire need of rehabilitation to ensure the provision of cheap and reliable power supply to the Negros-Cebu and Negros-Panay Power Grid.

According to a NEDA-7 project presentation during the recent RDC-7 meeting, the Palinpinon Geothermal Power Plant (PGPP-1) has been in operation for almost 24 years now out of its assumed economic life of 25 years.

Through those years, the plant has not encountered major problems that might have caused power outage. This is attributed to a good plant design, periodic maintenance and proper operation procedures, the report reads.

However, a team from the RDC-7 on June 1, 2007 conducted an inspection of the plant and reported that the deterioration of equipment due to aging and or corrosion is clearly visible making it vulnerable to mechanical failures.

There were proposals for a major rehabilitation of the plant in 1997 but due to budget constraints, lack of a substitute plant to take the role pf PGPP 1 in the system and the impending privatization of the power industry, the rehabilitation proposals were disapproved. Only selective rehabilitation and replacement work of equipment were made.

Considering that the plant’s economic life is almost consumed, the National Power Corporation (NPC) has sought the RDC-7 endorsement for the proposed Life Extension Project of the PGPP-1 which the full council approved in its latest (August 10) meeting.

The scope of works of the rehab project include the repair, replacement, installation and testing on minor equipment that are included in the regular budget for the operations and maintenance of the plant. The works that needed to be contracted out include the design, manufacturing, supply of labor and materials and equipment, packaging, delivery, supervision, installation, testing and commissioning including the associated civil works of the major electro-mechanical equipment such as turbines, generators, AVRs, exciters and gas extraction units.

According to NEDA-7 the total estimated cost of the rehabilitation project is about P2.2Billion with an actual implementation of approximately 24 months from July 2007 to July 2009.

To allay fears that the rehabilitation works might cause power supply disruption in the Visayas, NPC has outlined some contingency measures.

Rehabilitation will be done one unit at a time which means that only 37.5MW will be out at one time and not the total capacity of the plant. The 37.5MW loss will then be replenished by the Northern Negros Geothermal Plant.

NAPOCOR will also closely coordinate with TRANSCO, Visayas IPPs and distribution utilities during the rehabilitation period for proper power dispatch and preventive maintenance schedule and finally, NAPOCOR will put all power generating stations on security red alert status during the period.

The report said that the rehabilitation project is very vital to the plant because the PGPP-1 is a base load plant in the Visayas-Negros Island.

If implemented, it is expected to add another 15 years of economic life to the PGPP-1 and it will enhance its unit operation efficiency and system reliability. It is also expected that the total plant capacity will improve from the present 105MW to 112.5MW.

As can be recalled, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration has been aggressively pursuing the development and utilization of indigenous and renewable energy and the vision of making the country a world leader in geothermal energy. (PIA-Cebu/MBCN)

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