Wu offers Manila power plan

AS a series of rotating power cuts paralyse Manila for up to 10 hours yesterday, Hopewell Holdings chief Gordon Wu has unveiled a plan to bring the Philippine power crisis to an end by 1996.

Mr Wu said he had approached President Fidel Ramos with an ambitious proposal to add about 2,000 megawatts to the Luzon Island power grid.

The two met at the inauguration of phase two of Hopewell's gas turbine power plant in suburban Navotas, which went on stream about two weeks ago.

Mr Wu said the rescue plan consisted of installing four 668-megawatt coal-fired units - similar to those used by Hopewell in China - at the Hopewell site on Pagbilao Grande Island in Quezon province.

''By 1996 we can solve all of the energy problems of the Philippines,'' Mr Wu told reporters after officially commissioning the 100-megawatt Navotas II plant with Mr Ramos.

The Hopewell chief said an additional 2,000 megawatts should be sufficient to meet the country's immediate needs as Hongkong survived in the 1980s using four of China Light and Power's 668-megawatt units.

Mr Wu said he believed Hopewell had a good chance of winning approval for the proposal because of its track record in the Philippines.

Navotas II - the first of seven fast-track projects commissioned by the Ramos government - was completed in a record eight and a half months, allowing Hopewell to open it weeks ahead of schedule.

As with all Hopewell plants in the Philippines, Navotas I and II - which together generate 300 megawatts - were constructed under a build-operate-transfer scheme.

The state-owned National Power Corp (Napocor) supplies the transmission lines and fuel.

Earlier, Mr Ramos said Hopewell's Navotas plants had met all construction schedules, and had good standards for reliability and environmental protection.

Mr Ramos said the latest plant could reduce power cuts by as much as one hour a day.

Mr Wu said Hopewell would try to finish work on the US$900 million Pagbilao coal-fired plant by mid-1995, which would add 700 megawatts to the Luzon grid.

Although construction has already begun, the loan agreements for about $600 million are expected to be signed by mid-April.

''The power crisis is far from over,'' Mr Wu said. ''There is a lot of effort that still needs to be done.'' Aside from Navotas I and II, and the unfinished Pagbilao plant, Hopewell has undertaken the rehabilitation of nine Napocor power barges under a unique rehabilitate-operate-transfer scheme.