DOE urged to connect biomass power plant to national grid

INAUGURATION of the 40-megawatt biomass power plant of Victorias Milling Corporation (from left) VMC President Minnie Chua, Negros Occ. Rep. Albee Benitez, VMC Chairman Wilson Young, Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Cynthia Villar, DOE Usec. Benito Ranque and Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca (Dolly Yasa)

BACOLOD City – Senator Cynthia is hoping that the Department of Energy (DOE) will help to connect the newly inaugurated 40-megawatt biomass power plant of Victorias Milling Company (VMC) to the National Grid Power Corp.

The VMC on Tuesday afternoon marked its centennial year with the inauguration of its P2-billion cogeneration biomass power plant in Victorias City, Negros Occidental.

The 40-megawatt biomass power plant run mainly on bagasse, a by-product of sugarcane after being processed to extract sugar.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, author of the Biofuels Act and Renewable Energy Act, and  Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on Agriculture who also authored the Sugar Industry Development Act of 2015, graced the occasion. They both hailed the operationalization of the biomass power plant.

Villar said VMC evolved from the biggest supplier of refined sugar for 100 years to a power supplier.

She said she hopes that the Department of Energy will help to connect the plant to the National Grid Power Corporation.

Zubiri said that the future of the sugar industry is not in sugar but in three products produced by sugarcane, which are power, energy, and fuel.

“That is the only way to survive,” Zubiri added.

He also said that  the sugar industry is now facing a looming crises on threats of sugar import liberalization being proposed by the economic managers of President Rodrigo Duterte, to due to high prices of sugar in the local market, which are being blamed by farmers and producers to traders.

If the power plant is connected to the power grid, Zubiri aired a suggestion that a bit of income should be shared to farmers to help them survive.

“If farmers do not survive, you will also cease to operate the plant,” he said.

Meanwhile, Energy Undersecretary Benito Aranque, who represented Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, lauded VMC for its help in shaping up the economy of the country for 100 years, as it also achieved another milestone by putting up a biomass power plant.

Aranque assured VMC that  DOE, which is pushing for the maximization of the use of renewable energy in the country, will help  connect the power plant to the grid.

The VMC project assures the protection of environment by mitigating the dependence on imported fossil fuel, while addressing the needs for additional power capacity of the country, he added.

The power plant inauguration was also preceded by the launching of its centennial marker in front of the VMC manufacturing plant.

VMC was established in 1919 by Don Miguel Ossorio and his wife, Maria Paz Yangco along with business partners Claudio Ruiz de Luzuriaga, Francisco Ossorio and Shiras Jones.