The return of tourism in El Nido is pushing the demand for a 10-megawatt (MW) consistent power supply in the town in the future years as more development occurs, according to the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO).
PALECO said that currently, El Nido’s dependable capacity is 6.74 MW provided by the National Power Corporation (NPC) as it is one of its Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) areas.
According to PALECO Area North Manager Engr. Renato Briones Jr., power consumption has reached 5.5 MW to date and it is expected to rise further this April as the dry season continues to bring more tourists to spend their holidays in the town.
Looking at the town’s progress, Briones said 10 megawatts of supply will be what El Nido needs to prevent outages.
Briones said that energy regulatory offices such as the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Electrification Agency (NEA) are still in the process of reviewing the terms and references for the conduct of the Competitive Selection Process (CSP) in El Nido.
“Kapag nag-end na [ang contract ng NPC], ang aim ng NPC ay umalis na sa area dahil medyo malaki na ‘yong demand, mas maganda na independent power provider na ang mag-supply,” he said.
“Last year, nakapag-umpisa na sana kaso nagkaroon ng comments from bidders. Then ni-ready uli ang documents at ipapa-approve uli sa DOE at NEA. Sa ngayon, ‘yon ang hinihintay ni PALECO na kapag nagbigay na ng go signal i-continue na ang bidding,” he added.
The 10 MW that will be provided by the new supplier will replace what the NPC is supplying to El Nido. Its contract with PALECO is set to expire in 2024.
El Nido receives 23,000 kL of fuel from NPC, which is distributed via PALECO. It is among the mainland Palawan communities with the most NPC-supported consumption.
“In case na hindi pa in place ‘yong power plant ni PALECO yong kanyang kakontrata, baka magri-request sila ng extension dahil hindi naman pwedeng mawalan ng power yong munisipyo lalo at tourist destination,” he said.
The selected bidder will construct the power plant, the site of which Briones does not yet know.
He stated that after the transmission connection is completed from the power plant, El Nido’s 10 MW may be connected to the main grid and used to power neighboring towns.
Currently, there is no transmission connection between Taytay and El Nido, and the town operates on island mode.
Briones expressed anticipation that the CSP will be implemented in 2023 as El Nido’s demand continues to rise.
He also indicated that NPC desires to relocate its fuel budget to remote places, such as island communities.
In the meantime, PALECO is conducting a study to build its own power plant as an alternative if CSP construction takes too long.
“Pinag-aaralan namin kung alin ang mas mabilis na process kasi alam naman natin na ang CSP ay napakahabang process niyan pero that’s a legal process. Ang implication niyan, medyo yong timeline hahaba–at least magkakaroon ng sarilng power plant si PALECO,” general manager Engr. Rez Contrivida said.