AMID the push to ban the entry of coal-fired power plants in Negros Occidental, Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-Man said it’s better to have coal power stations in the province.
Dong-Man, who met with the officers of the Negros Press Club at 21 Bar and Restaurant in Bacolod City Thursday, November 15, said he observed that the province has a number of solar power plants and nothing for coal yet.
“Well, it is good to address climate change with renewable energy sources like solar and wind, but to provide or supply electricity, it is better to have coal power stations,” he added.
The Provincial Government of Negros Occidental is proposing a resolution to make the province coal-free. In fact, the Provincial Council has scheduled a committee meeting on it next week.
Negros Occidental, along with Negros Oriental, recently received the 2018 Leadership Awards from The Climate Reality Project mainly for its commitment to embrace “green” energy and currently hosting renewable energy plants and farms.
Provincial Environment and Management Office (PEMO) head Wilfred Ramon Peñalosa earlier said Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. already made a stand two to three years ago that they want a Green Energy Development Program for Negros Occidental.
"We are not preventing them from applying, but the plan of the governor is really to push for a green province," he added.
It can be recalled that San Miguel Corporation has expressed its intention to put up a coal-fired power plant in two barangays of San Carlos City.
Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said the City Council has already approved a resolution endorsing the project.
Unlike Marañon, the second highest official in the province has manifested that he is open to coal-fired power plants in Negros Occidental.
In Negros Oriental, meanwhile, the Provincial Council has already adapted Executive Order No. 9 preventing the entry of coal-fired power plants in the province.
Governor Roel Degamo even appealed to other local government units (LGUs) to follow the move, expressing his vehement opposition to coal-fired power claiming that “it is bad for the environment.”
Even the church supports the push to ban coal in Negros.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos earlier signed a position paper opposing the plan to put up a 300-megawatt coal plant in San Carlos City.
Alminaza has appealed to the voters to do all they can to make all candidates know that "it is our demand" to keep the island coal-free and committed to respecting the vision and responsibility for the next generation.
Korean companies are venturing coal plant operations in the country including those in Cebu, the foreign official said.
In fact, Dong-Man said he was in the Central Visayas province last week to see the construction site of a coal power station there.
He said that one of their businessmen told him that they are engaged in power supply operation with Naga Power Plant.
“For Korean Electric Power Corp. (Kepco), we invested 1.7 billion U.S. dollars to build a huge coal power station in Pangasinan,” the ambassador added.
On the opposition against coal in the province, Dong-Man said while it is good to have renewable energies to address climate change, solar power is too expensive compared to coal.
Many countries have coal power stations because it is cheap, he pointed out.
Amid questions on what should be prioritized, the protection of the environment or providing electricity to the people, Dong-Man stressed: “one method is to put a balance between conventional power stations and renewable energy sources.”
Meanwhile, Dong-Man noted that the Philippines has a very high ratio of renewable energy compared to other Southeast Asian countries “which is very good.”
“Also, you have many potentials in terms of developing geothermal and hydropower,” he added.
The Korean official stayed in the province for three days starting Tuesday, November 13, for various engagements.
On Wednesday, November 14, he led a talk on bilateral relations between Korea and the Philippines at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos (UNO-R) in Bacolod City.
He also met the officials of the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental, City Government of Bacolod, Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, and other groups including local business chambers.