Government hands over Casecnan Hydroelectric Power Plant to First Gen

Feb 26, 2024

The government, through the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), has turned over the ownership and operation of the Casecnan Hydroelectric Power Plant to First Gen Corporation subsidiary Fresh River Lakes Corporation (FRLC). 

PSALM and NIA personnel formally handed over the operations of the Casecnan hydro facilities in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija to First Gen after the latter secured all regulatory permits and remitted payment for the purchase of the power plant. 

The turnover completes the sale of the 165-megawatt (MW) Casecnan power plant, which PSALM auctioned-off last year as part of the government's privatization program. Lopez-led First Gen, through FRLC, topped the auction with a US$526-million offer, which was way above government’s minimum bid price. 

“From the perspective of First Gen, building a similar hydro plant from scratch would have been more expensive and would have required a lengthy preparation time of up to seven — if not more — years for planning, designing, permitting and construction,” explained Dennis Gonzales, Senior Vice President and Head of the Hydro Group of First Gen. 

“Our winning offer, therefore, helped the company save on cost and precious time to construct a similar hydro project.” 

The sale of the Casecnan power plant to First Gen—the largest privatization of a state power asset so far under the Marcos administration — underwent stringent evaluation and review from various government agencies, all of which gave their respective approvals by January 2024 to facilitate the smooth turnover of the power plant. 

Aside from the plant itself, the power components that First Gen acquired from the government include the switchyard, the administration complex, guest house and some roads. 

Meanwhile, ownership of the non-power components of Casecnan, such as the irrigation facilities, the weir and the tunnel, remains with the government, through NIA and PSALM. The use of these non-power facilities is governed by separate operations and maintenance agreements between FRLC and NIA on one hand, and the former with PSALM, on the other. 

Other hydro facilities owned by First Gen include the 132-MW Pantabangan-Masiway Hydro-Electric Power Plant (PHEPP), a storage hydropower plant with a dam and reservoir located close to Casecnan. It is also constructing the 120-MW Aya pumped storage hydro project, also in Pantabangan, on top of other run-of-river hydro projects in Mindanao. 

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr and other government officials have been invited to inspect the Casecnan plant and the surrounding Pantabangan Lake reservoir, which has infrastructure for power generation and irrigation. 

Aside from hydro, the First Gen power plants run on other renewable energy sources — geothermal, solar, and wind — as well as natural gas, considered the cleanest fossil fuel.

Following the acquisition of the Casecnan power plant, First Gen has expanded the combined capacity of its low-carbon power plants to 3,666 MW, thereby solidifying its position as the country’s leading clean energy provider.