GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Foreign-backed energy firm NV Vogt Philippines Solar Energy One, Inc. will finally begin next month the construction of its P1.3-billion solar power plant project in Surallah town in South Cotabato.
Surallah Mayor Antonio Bendita said Tuesday NV Vogt officials have set the formal groundbreaking of the 6.5-megawatt (MW) project in early June at its site in Sitio Sta. Rita in Barangay Centrala.
He said the company decided to proceed with the development of the project’s initial phase after getting the approval of the Department of Agrarian Reform two weeks ago for the conversion of its eight-hectare site from agricultural to industrial land.
The mayor said NV Vogt has planned to invite President Benigno Aquino III and other top national government officials for the project’s ground breaking.
“The required capital is already in place and the company has been making strides in its permitting process. So the project will now proceed as planned,” he said in a radio interview.
NV Vogt initially launched the project in June 2013 following the signing of a bilateral power purchase agreement between the company and distribution utility South Cotabato I Electric Cooperative (Socoteco I).
The project mainly involves the construction and development of an eight-hectare solar farm and power plant facilities, which will directly serve the needs of consumers of Socoteco I.
The electric cooperative serves this city, eight municipalities in South Cotabato and Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat.
In August last year, NV Vogt enlisted Armstrong Asset Management for an investment of US$ 29 million or roughly P1.3 billion to fund the construction of the project’s first phase.
The company, which had planned to build a 12 MW power plant in the area, said its initial phase will comprise the construction of a 6.25 MW ground-mounted and grid-connected solar power plant.
At 6.25 MW, it would also be the biggest solar photovoltaic power project in the country once completed, surpassing the one-megawatt solar facility in Cagayan de Oro City.
The company said the project “will be the world’s largest diesel replacement power plant when it is completed, given that 100 percent of its generated power will replace diesel-generated peak power.”
South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes and the Provincial Development Council endorsed and gave its full support to the project, which is seen to address the rising power demand in the area.
“We endorsed the project mainly because of the benefits that it will bring, specifically in filling the energy vacuum in the province using the best alternative power from sustainable clean energy,” the governor said.
Fuentes said they also saw huge potentials with the venture in terms of job generation, increase in local tax revenues, expansion of eco-tourism opportunities and enhancement of local and foreign investors’ confidence to the area.
Considering the massive investment that the company will contribute to the local economy, she said the local government initially offered a 10-year tax exemption to NV Vogt as incentive pending the revision of the province’s revenue code.