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Saturday, March 23, 2019
BACOLOD

Vice mayor: Coal is no-no in Sipalay, firm proposes mini hydro

NEGROS. Some of the islets in Sipalay City support the push for sustainable development by utilizing power from renewable energy sources like the proposed mini hydropower plant in the locality. (Erwin Nicavera)

COAL power generation is a no-no in Sipalay City, a top official of the southern Negros Occidental locality said.

Vice Mayor Maria Gina Lizares, at the sidelines of the Familiarization Tour in the city Monday, December 10, said they even do not want a ship recycling plant that will be hosted by its nearby town Hinoba-an.

"Sipalay City is going to the direction where sources of our power are renewables," Lizares said.

The City Government supports the push for sustainable development through one, renewable energy (RE) generation, not coal, she added.

The issue on whether to allow, or not, the establishment and operation of a coal-fired power plant in Negros Occidental is currently hounding the province again.

The Catholic Church, particularly the four bishops in Negros, has already issued a joint pastoral statement opposing the entry of coal in the island.

This is amid the reported plan of SMC Global Power Corp. to develop a 300-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in San Carlos City.

San Carlos Mayor Gerardo Valmayor Jr. earlier said they are still weighing the possible impacts of the project.

For the Provincial Government, Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. has issued a proposed ordinance disallowing the exploration, establishment, and operation of any coal-fired power plant in the province.

In fact, it was already subjected to a joint committee meeting of the Provincial Board's committee on environment and energy.

The Provincial Board, though, has yet to conduct a series of meetings with various sectors before it can finally act on the proposed ordinance.

Lizares, meanwhile, revealed that a Bacolod-based company is proposing for the development of a 4.5-MW mini hydropower plant in their locality.

The vice mayor said it will be put up, if ever, in Barangay Manlocahoc, an upland community considered as poor barangay and identified as a red area.

The water source is a river.

"Manlocahoc is also predominantly composed of mining claims of three different entities," she said, adding that based on the initial presentation of the firm, they will not construct a dam to prevent damage on the area considered as a prime agriculture land.

The city official has not yet disclosed the name of the company, which expressed interest to develop a mini hydropower plant sometime in October this year.

The City Council already gave an endorsement for the company to proceed with the feasibility study, which may last for about three to four months.

They will again present after the study, Lizares said, adding that the firm can only start the development "if we already put our name in the agreement."

Moreover, during the proposal presentation, the City Government has made sure that whatever the company puts in the barangay should serve the community there first particularly in terms of electrification.

Given that the area is "very far" from the city proper, Lizares said it would be impractical for the Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (Noceco) to bring its equipment there.

"Thus, it is good if they put up a mini hydro there. Solar is good also," she said, pointing out that the City is also ensuring that the environment will be protected in this project.

If there is a need to cut trees, it should be coordinated with the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro), Lizares added.

On concerns pertaining to being an insurgency area of the host-barangay, the vice mayor said: "for as long as the project is not into mining, then there's no problem with the people there."


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