I COULD not, for the life of me, understand why Negros Occidental Vice Governor Eugenio “Bong” Lacson expressed his openness to San Miguel Global Power Holdings Inc. (SMGPHI)’s proposal to pursue a coal-fired power plant in San Carlos City.
Negros Occidental, after all, is recognized as the country’s top producer of solar electricity, with a generation capacity of 341.5 megawatts from five solar power firms, including two in San Carlos City.
I appreciate the stand of outgoing Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. who said, “We promise the people of Negros Occidental that the provincial government, its leaders, offices, and staff, are, and will be pursuing a ‘No to any coal-fired power plant in Negros Occidental policy,’ as coal-fired power plants and other fossil fuels are scientifically proven to have serious and harmful impacts on the environment and people’s health as well as livelihood.”
Earlier, Marañon sent a letter to the Provincial Board, asking for the passage of an ordinance declaring Negros Occidental a coal-free, clean-energy, and environment-friendly province.
Even Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo expressed his opposition on the operation of coal-fired power plants in Negros Island.
The ordinance seeks to disallow the exploration, establishment, and operation of any coal-fired power plant in the province.
For his part, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said the Department of Energy has approved the Grid Impact Survey application of SMGPHI, in connection with their plan to establish and operate a coal-fired power plant in the area.
The Diocese of San Carlos immediately issued a pastoral letter denouncing any form of dirty energy in the diocese.
For its part, the Diocese of Bacolod is going solar. WeGen Technicians is installing solar panels at the San Sebastian Cathedral.
Pope Francis’s landmark encyclical Laudato Si made it clear that combating climate change and protecting the environment represent religious duties.
“I think it’s critical that we start to move, and move quickly, in a direction that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Patrick Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network three years ago.
Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, a former mayor of San Carlos City, however, is non-committal, saying he is keeping an open mind on a coal-fired power plant as an energy source.
Lacson’s stand seems out of sync with the voices of our provincial top executives and the church. New coal does not belong here. Or elsewhere for that matter.