Caramoran signs deal for $300-M waste power plant
Caramoran, Catanduanes  ·  
posted 25-Nov-2019  ·  
7,459 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

Local officials of Caramoran town have signed a memorandum of agreement with a green energy company for the construction of a US300-million Wasto-To-Energy (WTE) plant in barangay Bocon beginning early next year.

Under the deal inked last Oct. 23, 2019, the local government unit grants Opus Energy Solutions, Inc. a 25-year concession agreement to build and operate the plant, which will also produce about 34 megawatt-hours (MWh) of exportable electricity from the combustion of the waste.

In return, the LGU is obligated to pay Opus Energy tipping fees of US$32 to $35 per ton of waste delivered to the plant, an amount that will be sourced from its collection of higher charges per ton from LGUs and other entities disposing of its waste at the plant.

Caramoran is also obligated to take all of the electricity produced by the plant and pay for it at an estimated lower price than the current generation cost, which can be recovered from selling the power to the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. and the Bicol mainland through a submarine cable.

With the authorization of the Sangguniang Bayan secured through a special session on the same day, Mayor Glenda Aguilar signed the agreement with Opus Energy president and chief executive officer Rafael Javier Eubra and Catanduanes Matibayon Development Corporation president Cedric Sanchez.

Also present during the brief signing ceremony at the district office of Congressman Hector Sanchez at the Legislative Building were Vice Mayor Chyrrel Barro and members of the municipal council, Opus Energy chief operating officer Thomas Kwok and chief financial officer William Cheah.

The Matibayon company is leasing a 20-hectare lot at Bocon to Opus Energy for the construction of the plant, which will involve the relocation of about 20 houses with full cost to be shouldered by the Sanchez firm.

CEO Eubra stressed that Opus Energy will invest all of the financing needed for the WTE plant, with the LGU only required to provide its full support, aside from performing its obligations under the contract regarding tipping fees and the electricity produced by the plant.

Opus Energy is confident it will be able to begin construction by the first quarter of 2020 and complete the project within two-and-a-half years by October 2022.

In a briefing conducted for the benefit of the Caramoran officials, Eubra and his team disclosed that based on the data they gathered during an initial visit, Catanduanes generates a total of 200 tons of solid waste every day.

However, this amount of local waste is not enough to fill the required 1,800 tons per day needed to generate the 34 MWh exportable power, they stated.

Thus, Opus Energy will work together with the local governments and mainland Bicol to bring their waste to the island via barge, with the company to build a suitable port in Bocon.

Around 2,000 workers will be hired once the WTE plant is in construction and around 200 once the WTE is in operation, with local residents getting first priority, Eubra bared.

The Opus Energy exec also assured concerned councilors that the waste will not affect the health of Bocon residents as the WTE plant will be fenced and there will be no waste stockpiles as the garbage, compressed and sealed, will be fed directly to the plant.

On the other hand, Eubra said the smoke emission will be within European Union (EU) standards as well as comply with the Clean Air Act, as the emissions will undergo scrubbing before coming out of the smokestack.

Addressing the vice mayor and SB members, Mayor Aguilar expressed confidence that the WTE project will solve the intermittent brownouts and low voltage that have been plaguing consumers.

Expressing trust in Rep. Sanchez’s initiative, the local chief executive said the project will be beneficial to Caramoran and will not bring harm to the congressman’s native town.

In an earlier meeting with Cong. Sanchez, Acting Governor Shirley Abundo and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan at the governor’s conference room, Eubra said the plant will only use general domestic solid waste and not hazardous or medical waste which will be disposed of in a separate facility.

“We are not going to abandon you,” the Opus Energy exec stated in reply to concerns regarding the projects’ sustainability.

“The idea is not only to solve the island’s power shortage but to sell the excess to the mainland,” he stressed. “It will be the LGU’s gain but we will facilitate it.”

Eubra said Opus Energy will bring in the technology and will stay to operate in Catanduanes.

The project will also lead to development spin-offs like hotels and other accommodation facilities, food establishments and other business enterprises. Opus Energy will also build a bridge to the mainland, which will open more opportunities for Catanduanes.

COO Kwok bared that dry waste has an energy value close to petroleum’s calorific value, with that of plastic bottles almost similar to diesel’s. He also pointed to the availability of abaca waste which can be used in compost to be considered at a later stage.

“Catanduanes will have no need to buy diesel fuel for its power plants,” he said.

There will be no need to get a clearance from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for the project as the LGU is not getting a loan from Opus Energy, which will directly fund the project.

“I know you don’t believe it yet but we have allocated US$300 million for Catanduanes, with our investors very confident about the project,” CEO Eubra averred.

“In being the provider and developer, we are thus not here as your enemy but as your collaborator, for a synergistic partnership towards a sustainable economy,” Eubra emphasized. “You will leave a legacy by being part of the decision process.”

“Catanduanes will become one of the best self-sustaining areas in the country,” he promised.

In her reply, Acting Gov. Abundo said the proposed project is a very good development for the province as it would be the first time it has attracted such a big investment that would greatly boost the economy.

“There will always be concerns from skeptics,” she added. “But as long as Opus Energy can answer these concerns, this will be very big for us.”

CEO Eubra assured the provincial officials that it will meet with the other sectors to do a proactive information campaign.

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