Over the past 42 years, Edgar D Sevilles has played a pivotal role in shaping the power economy of the Philippines. A registered electrical engineer with a Master of Management, he worked his way up the ranks at government-owned National Power Corporation (NPC).

Earning the position of Department Manager for the company’s barge fleet, Edgar was responsible for the management, supervision, operation and maintenance of two tugboats and 17 power barges with a combined capacity of 458 megawatts (MW).

Edgar D Sevilles, Vice President Business Manager for Diesel Operations at Western Mindanao Power Corporation (WMPC)
Edgar D Sevilles, Vice President Business Manager for Diesel Operations at Western Mindanao Power Corporation (WMPC)

Expansion opportunities

In 1993, Edgar transferred to Alsons Power Group (APG) as Deputy Operations Manager of Northern Mindanao Power, the Group’s first foray into the power industry.

“When I joined the company, the Mindanao power grid was supplied predominantly by two government-owned hydropower plants located in the north.”

“These plants were vulnerable to weather changes, which resulted in frequent shortages in power supply,” explains Edgar.”

“These circumstances presented the opportunity for Alsons to expand its power business, and we did so through strategic partnerships with Tomen Power Corporation of Japan and AboitizPower.”

“I rose to become Operations Manager of the Diesel Power business portfolio, then Alsons Vice-President of Operations, and in 2013, I was promoted to my current role as Vice-President Business Manager for Diesel Operations.”

APG’s power generation facilities continue to focus on the island of Mindanao, where they play a major role in providing electricity to fuel the region’s growing population and rapidly expanding economy.

Its three diesel power facilities include Southern Philippines Power Corporation’s 55MW plant in Sarangani; Western Mindanao Power Corporation’s (WMPC) 100MW plant in Zamboanga City; and the 103MW Mapalad Power Corporation plant in Iligan City.

Edgar has been a huge influence in developing, expanding and maintaining APG’s diesel and coal power generation portfolios within the Philippines and in countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and China.

Refusing to rest on its laurels, the Group has three more power projects set for construction by mid-2018, each to be operated by one of its seven subsidiaries.

These include the second 105MW coal plant of Sarangani Energy Corporation; the 105MW San Ramon Power base-load coal-fired power plant in Zamboanga City; and the 15MW Siguil hydropower project in Sarangani Province.

Once finished, these projects will bring APG’s power portfolio to around 588MW of generating capacity, which translates to almost 25% of Mindanao’s projected peak power demand in 2021.

Importance of a community-oriented culture

Edgar believes that a community-oriented culture is at the core of the Group’s commitment to providing safe, reliable, and affordable power to the people of Mindanao and the rest of the country.

“A strong culture is crucial in achieving our goals. However, it is also one of the biggest challenges we face, given the cultural diversity of our employees.”

“From the beginning of their employment, we aim to mould their values and attitudes to match our own company culture,” he says.

“We give our employees the opportunity to grow and freedom to make decisions. We provide the goals and vision, and ensure people know their actions can make a real difference in the success of the organisation.”

Strong stakeholder and community engagement

Fast facts:

Edgar Leadership Tips

  1. “Success isn’t measured by how much you accumulate, but by how much you contribute.”
  2. “In the words of Warren Buffet: ‘It takes tw20enty years to build your reputation and five minutes to ruin. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently’.”
  3. “Patience and perseverance are virtues that will lead you to success.”

Forging, maintaining and enhancing mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders is a core requisite in each and every Alsons project.

“Since the very beginning, we have engaged the community through corporate social responsibility projects in the areas of education, healthcare, and livelihoods."

"We have placed strong emphasis on greening the community and providing electricity to areas that were previously unconnected,” explains Edgar.

Many of those who manage and operate Alsons’ plants are residents of or live within the vicinity of, its host communities.

It is therefore of great importance to the Group that residents are able to live in a clean and ecologically safe environment, and it has embarked on several watershed preservation and development projects to rehabilitate degraded forest lands.

“We have placed strong emphasis on greening the community and providing electricity to areas that were previously unconnected.”

Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) legislation

In December of last year, the Government of the Philippines introduced the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) legislation, which is expected to generate PHP130 billion in revenue by imposing higher taxes on fuel, cars, tobacco and sugary beverages.

Edgar says TRAIN will also see an increase in the cost of power in APG plants. “Most affected are our oil-fired power plants, which can expect to see a 10–30% cost increase over the next three years.”

“This will make oil-fired power plants less competitive, driving power players to be more innovative in improving their operational expenses.”

Nevertheless, Edgar is confident that Alsons Power will continue to be profitable and prosperous despite the challenging environment it currently operates in.

“Alsons’ founding family, the Alcantaras, have been doing business in Mindanao since the 50s. Over this time, they have formed strong alliances and gained extensive experience in developing green-field power projects.”

“To survive, we need to develop new strategies with our partners and suppliers, embrace innovative technologies, and explore alternative options in power generation.”

Embracing game-changing opportunities

Edgar is more than ready to continue this legacy, having had a front-row seat as the Philippines’ power industry evolved from a monopolistic era of government-controlled power supply to a competitive and dispersed private sector industry.

Fast facts:

Western Mindanao Power Corporation

  1. WMPC supplied power to the Mindanao grid from 1997–2015 under an 18-year Energy Conversion Agreement with the NPC.
  2. In 2015 WMPC began supplying 50MW of power directly to the City of Zamboanga under a power sales agreement with the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative.
  3. WMPC will continue to be one of the primary suppliers of power to Zamboanga City until the 105MW San Ramon Power baseload power plant commences operations in 2021.

“The game has changed dramatically. New power technologies are now directed towards renewable sources to minimise their impact on the environment and mitigate worsening climate change,” he says.

“To survive, we need to develop new strategies with our partners and suppliers, embrace innovative technologies, and explore alternative options in power generation.”

“Every day is a new opportunity, a chance to grow and learn. Competition is intense and APG will continue to expand its portfolio to include renewables in collaboration with strategic suppliers and business partners.”