President Aquino inaugurates 300-megawatt Davao plant

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Davao del Sur (CNN Philippines) — With only four months left before the national elections, residents of Mindanao are concerned about the region's supply of electricity.

President Benigno Aquino III inaugurated on Friday (January 8) a new coal-fired power plant in Toril,  Davao del Sur.

The plant has been on a test run since September. Upon operation, it will augment dwindling reserves from hydroelectric power plants that suffer from the dry spell.

It's a big deal for the region, as the 300-megawatt plant will supply power to over 20 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities all over Mindanao, including Zamboanga, Cagayan De Oro and General Santos.

What sets it apart from other power plants is that it is not dependent on weather conditions, and will be able to continue generating power even during dry spells or drought in Mindanao.

"When this plant becomes fully operational, we can count on it to consistently produce 300 megawatts of baseload power, which means that this capacity can be tapped into anytime, rain or shine, with very minor fluctuations," Aquino said in a speech during the inauguration.

The plant features a coal dome facility — the first of its kind in Southeast Asia — that will ensure security of the fuel and safety of surrounding areas

It is operated by Therma South Inc., a subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Inc. 

The government is working to ensure a stable power supply in Mindanao come election day. 

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that an additional capacity of up to 600 megawatts will come on stream in Mindanao in the first half of this year.

"Apart from all the projects that have come to fruition during our administration, our private sector partners have committed to undertake at least another 11 power projects in Mindanao that will come online between 2016 and 2020, envisioned to produce at least another 675.30 megawatts of capacity, which will be more than enough to cover the projected increase in demand for those years," Aquino added.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was supposed to attend the event with President Aquino but he begged off because of engagements in Cebu and Manila.