(EnergyAsia, May 12, Tuesday) — Philippines’ Aboitiz Power Corporation (AP) said its net income for the first quarter of 2009 fell sharply to 381 million peso year-on-year from 1.1 billion. (US$1=48 peso)

The power generation business contributed 110 million peso to the total, down 83% year-on-year, due to lower net generated power and softer prices, particularly for its merchant hydro power plants. When adjusted for non-recurring items, the decline in earnings is reduced to 64% year-on-year to 242 million peso.

As at end March 31, 2009, AP’s power generation group had an attributable capacity of 578MW, an 18% year-on-year increase due to operations at the 175MW Ambuklao-Binga hydro power plants in July 2008. Despite the increase, total attributable power sold for the quarter in review dropped 17% YOY from 377GwH to 312 GwH. The reduction was mainly due to the lower generated power of the company’s hydro, coal and some of its thermal (oil) power plants.

The island of Luzon experienced lower rainfall compared with the same period last year, bringing down the utilisation of AP’s Luzon-based hydro power plants. The company’s coal and some of its thermal power plants were dispatched less by their respective offtakers, which resulted in lower capacity factors for the quarter.

The Limay oil-fired power plant has been designated as a Must Run Unit (MRU) to support the contingency imposed for the San Jose transformers. As a designated MRU, the Limay plant’s cost is not incorporated in the spot market pricing equation, which effectively brings down prices given this plant’s high operating cost.

Aboitiz Power, a leader in the Philippine hydroelectric power generation industry, owns stakes in some of the largest privately owned distribution utilities in the country.