3 power plants in MisOr ‘defy’ common sense, logic-A A +A
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
DESPITE the power shortage in Mindanao, the Misamis Oriental Provincial Government will not allow the setting up of power plants fearing environmental and health hazards without strict monitoring.
Vice Governor Joey Pelaez said that as a citizen and a public servant, he will impose strict monitoring of the existing and the still-under-negotiation power companies before the Provincial Council will give its endorsement and approval.
Pelaez has cautioned of the impending risk of the proposed construction of the two multi-billion coal-fired power plants in the province.
The FDC Utilities Inc., the energy arm of the Filinvest Group, has proposed to put up its subsidiary, Misamis Power Development Corporation, a P30 billion coal-fired power plant, in Villanueva town.
According to FDCU, the 405 megawatts (MW) power plant will be comprised of three generating units with 135-MW capacity. The units will locate inside the Phividec Industrial Estate in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.
The facility, which will be equipped with a circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology, is targeted for commercial commissioning in 2016.
This year, another player wants to venture in the province.
Cagayan de Oro Electric Light and Light Company, Incorporated (Cepalco), presented a proposal to build a new coal-fired power plant in the municipality of Balingasag.
Cepalco, together with the Mindanao Energy Systems, Incorporated (Minergy), have filed a joint application for approval of 100 MW power supply at the Energy Regulatory Commission on June 26.
He said with three power plants in just one province facing the Macajalar Bay is very threatening to the environment, health and safety, and pose a deleterious impact on marine life.
There is nothing like this in any part of the country, he said.
He said having three power plants is abnormal that to concentrate three coal-fired power plants in one province defies common sense and logic.
He said scientific studies say coal is dirty, if not the dirtiest, of all fossil fuels, and it emits 29 percent more carbon than oil and 80 percent more than gas.
He added that coal is one of the leading contributors to global warming and climate change.
Burning coal also releases massive amounts of harmful substances such as mercury, a deadly neurotoxin and arsenic, a known carcinogen (cancer-causing), which are both toxic to human health and the environment.
Mercury is a particular problem. According to the United Nations Environment Program, mercury and its compounds are highly toxic and pose a global environmental threat to humans and wildlife.
Coal-fired power and heat production are the largest single source of atmospheric mercury emissions. Sadly, there are no commercially available technologies to prevent mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.
“We need other clean sources of energy, preferably renewable energy,” he added.
“Be that as it may, we already have one coal-fired power plant by Steag which must be enough to supply the local power needs of our province. It is, therefore, of no necessity to build another two coal-fired power plants in the same province,” Pelaez said.
People should not be sacrificed
Former Councilor Edgar Cabanlas is opposed on the setting up of these power plants since their locations are nearby the city.
Cabanlas said he would not object to any development in the province, as long as the people will not be sacrificed.
He said, “We are living a very blessed province, we must take care of our community and preserve it in order for future generations to enjoy.”
In an interview with Sulog chairman Orlando Ravanera, he said coal-fired power plants must not be an option.
Ravanera vowed to continue his opposition against these power plants even if it would mean allowing power shortage because it is detrimental to every living being.
Pelaez filed a resolution urging Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Board to implement a moratorium on the expansion and building coal-fired power plants in Misamis Oriental pending an environmental and health impact assessment that is open, transparent and participated by the people of the province.
He said the issued moratorium of the two investors to temporarily suspend its request for the province’s recommendation until thorough monitoring will be complete.
Pelaez through his office notified Steag to comply with their monitoring process.
“Not even Steag is excused, if it will be proven that its power plant has caused harm to us, we will be compelled to require them to come up with means to a clean environment,” Pelaez said.
Pelaez said the energy crisis is only temporary, “but the damages to our environment and our health (because) of three coal-fired power plants will be permanent and irreparable.”
“If all these coal-fired power plants operate in our province, imagine the inevitable ruin it will cause us. We will not be blamed if something will happen in the future, at least we have tried our best to think of what is right for the community,” he added.
“Do we want Misamis Oriental to have a distinct recognition as a province with the most number of power plants in the country vis-à-vis it’s scientifically given impacts?” Pelaez asked.
Pelaez is calling upon “all people and all those who love their environment and health to come forth, unify and make known their rights.”
For his part, Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano believes that power plants are the best source for more employment, extra income to the province and aid to the lack of power supply especially in the province’s first congressional district where rotating brownouts are evident.
However, Emano will respect Pelaez’s decision.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 24, 2013.