Power firms open to strict monitoring, inquiries-A A +A
Thursday, September 26, 2013
FOLLOWING the pronouncement of Misamis Oriental Vice Governor Joey Pelaez to impose strict monitoring procedures for an existing coal-fired power plant and requirements for the two other companies that have proposed to build additional coal-fired power plants to ensure health, safety and clean environmental, the power companies reiterated their guarantee of keeping the environment safe by providing state-of-the-art technology anti-pollution devices.
Under his watch, Pelaez said he will impose strict monitoring of the already-operating Steag State Power Inc., as well as applicants FDC Utilities Inc. (FDCU), the energy sector of the Filinvest Group, and Mindanao Energy Systems, Inc. (Minergy).
FDCU is proposing to build a P30 billion coal-fired power plant with generating capacity of 405 megawatts (MW), under its subsidiary, the Misamis Power Development Corporation.
Jerome Soldevilla, Steag corporate communications officer, said the company will always be open to public inquiries especially on matters relating to the firm’s environmental performance.
He said through the years Steag takes pride of its highly transparent and superior environmental compliance.
Soldevilla explained that aside from sustaining a 100 percent compliance with safety and environmental standards, Steag has a functioning multi-partite monitoring team composed of various sectoral representatives that checks the terms of the company’s Environmental Compliance Certificate.
He said Steag has also installed an on-line accessible continuous emission monitoring system, a pioneering initiative that has elevated environmental transparency to the highest level.
“All of life is about communication. If they ask questions, then we will find time to answer the queries or investigations, in that way we create understanding and better communication,” Soldevilla said.
“Our being transparent would mean that we are not hiding something from the public,” he added.
Soldevilla said over the years Steag has contributed in providing solution to the expanding energy demands of the country “ensuring optimum efficiency, reliability and safety operations through state-of-the-art technology.”
It took Steag three years before they gained social acceptance as various environmentalist groups had strongly opposed its operation.
He said Steag has proven that its technology is safe and it has successfully operated after those rounds of trial.
At present, Steag is providing 20 percent of efficient power in Mindanao.
For her part, Marilyn A. Chavez, senior manager customer and communication relations department of Cagayan Electric Power and Light, Inc. (Cepalco) said the company is also open to further monitoring to ensure that it is “clean.”
Chavez disclosed that Pelaez has informed them of his stand during a consultative meeting in Balingasag where Cepalco’s sister company Minergy will set up a coal-fired power plant.
She said once Minergy will start operating, it will provide 100 MW to the Mindanao grid to augment the shortage of power supply in the island due to the growing demand.
Cepalco began its operations in 1952 with a modest power generating capacity of 5000 kilowatts and a customer base of only 750. It has envisioned itself of becoming the best in the country’s electric distribution sector.
Today, Cepalco has over a hundred thousand residential, commercial and industrial customers within its franchise area that covers Cagayan de Oro City and the municipalities of Tagoloan, Villanueva, and Jasaan in Misamis Oriental, including the 3,000-hectare Phividec Industrial Estate.
Cepalco is now the third largest electric distribution company in the Philippines, outside of Meralco. The company’s growth in energy consumption has consistently been among the highest in the country.
Chavez said the city has no power shortage, but in the years ahead it will be imminent because of the looming huge investments.
Reached for comment, FDCU didn't say anything yet.
Clean energy options
Nancy Cue, a resident in Barangay Bugo, questioned the additional power plants citing there is already an existing one. She fears that the additional coal-fired power plants might inflict harm to the communities.
Cue added that officials of the province must consider other power alternatives that are less harmful to the community.
Shiela Gomez, a science teacher, believed that too much electricity generated within the 400-kilometer radius where such plant operates can be very harmful to the respiratory system.
Gomez said the smoke emission may cause cancer.
Cagayan de Oro City Councilor Dante Pajo, committee chair on health, said there are clean energy initiatives, and companies must better invest in renewable energy, like the case of Cepalco’s solar power plant which proved that on-grid solar energy can be financially viable.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 26, 2013.