Solar Philippines bids $0.058/kWh in Meralco price challenge


The Manila-based PV module manufacturer and project developer submitted the offer after Meralco asked power suppliers to challenge First NatGas Power’s unsolicited proposal to supply it with 414 MW of generating capacity from a gas power plant it operates on the island of Luzon in San Gabriel, La Union province.

Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings said it would pair its solar panels with an unspecified battery storage solution to provide PV-generated electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at a  lower cost than gas.

Its competing bid to offer continuous electricity to Meralco at PHP 2.99/kWh would slash electricity rates by as much as 30%, potentially saving consumers up to PHP 75 billion per year, according to an online statement.

The proposed rate of PHP 2.99/kWh is considerably lower than Meralco’s average generation rate of PHP 4.74/kWh over the past three months. When stacked up against gas plants, such as a 500 MW FGP Corp. facility that has supplied Meralco with electricity at an average rate of PHP 5.44/kWh over the past three months, the potential savings are even higher.

Laying the gauntlet

Meralco asked energy companies to challenge First NatGas Power’s proposal after it failed to identify qualifying companies via a competitive selection process. Initially, Meralco only sought competing bids from other natural gas suppliers.

Meralco can now decide if it wants to solicit more bids under the same guidelines, or change the terms to give other technologies the chance to compete on cost.

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“Meralco can save an average of 30% thanks to advances in solar and battery storage,” said Solar Philippines President Leandro Leviste, arguing that wholesale electricity spot market prices are now at an all-time low.

“Re-bidding this requirement in line with DOE’s technology- neutral policy will encourage competition and ensure consumers can enjoy significant savings,” he said.

Solar Philippines recently finished building a 4 MW battery-backed microgrid in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro province. It claims that the installation, which features Tesla batteries, demonstrates its ability to provide continuous power to an entire community at a lower cost than gas.

In August,  Solar Philippines opened the first PV module factory in the Philippines. The plant in Santo Tomas, Batangas province, is expected to manufacture 800 MW of solar panels this year.

In September, the company also signed a deal with Taiwan’s Gintech Energy to start work on the initial stage of a 200 MW PV cell supply arrangement. The agreement is part of Gintech’s ongoing efforts to expand throughout Southeast Asia.

Solar Philippines remains focused on building its downstream project development business. It vowed last year to finish developing 1 GW of solar capacity by the end of 2018, with a focus on global markets such as the U.S., India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar, as well as a number of unspecified countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

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