By Myrna M. Velasco
The final choice on Manila Electric Company’s (Meralco) prospective partner for the 1,200-megawatt Atimonan coal-fired power project is a Thai company, with the Southeast Asian energy player dislodging the two other suitors of Meralco for that particular venture.
Executives of Meralco previously admitted that they have already pre-selected a strategic foreign partner, but signing of a definitive partnership agreement will only come when the project’s power supply agreement (PSA) finally secures regulatory nod.
They also noted that the foreign partner will be formally named and announced when all regulatory approvals and corresponding project preparatory works are already accomplished.
The Atimonan One Energy, Inc. (A1E) power project, costing $3.0 billion, will be implemented via Meralco’s subsidiary Meralco PowerGen (MGen) and the facility will be equipped with an ultra super critical (USC) boiler technology.
It was originally targeted coming on stream by year 2021 to 2022, but due to regulatory and legal hurdles on its PSA approval, construction timeline is also being pushed back.
“The approval of the PSA which had been filed almost three years ago had completed all the requisite regulatory processes and public hearings, and had been submitted for regulatory decision nearly two years ago,” Meralco PowerGen and CEO President Rogelio L. Singson said.
Nevertheless, the disposition of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) at present is to wait for a decision of the Supreme Court on a case filed against the project – before it will resume deliberations on the pending PSA application of Atimonan One Energy.
While waiting for verdicts on unsettled regulatory and legal hurdles, the company noted that all of its transmission connection right-of-way (ROW) concerns, including land acquisitions, had already been completed.
Singson added that “comprehensive land use program and zoning ordinance had been finalized and accepted by the Atimonan local government and other key stakeholders.”
On the financing sphere for the project, Meralco PowerGen emphasized that it “continues to engage with the lender banks on its financial close.” It will be a 70:30 project finance arrangement, inferring that the loan component will be as much as $2.1 billion.