THE 300 megawatt coal-fired power plant in San Carlos City is pursued and done?
Power supply will increase but the cost of electricity will not decrease as in the case of a number of power plants set up in the island, coal, renewable and mix energy; in fact, cost of electricity in the island is increasing yearly by three to five percent per kilowatt hour.
More power supply will attract various investors to the city; value of lands will shoot up, land tax will soar, depriving more middle class, small business and even OFW remittance dependent households’ access to lands. Even low-cost housing program will get less priority because real estate speculators and brokers in cahoots with the city officials will simply give priority to big property owners and developers.
The city will face more problems in waste management because the coal plant will dispose tons of solid waste products annually including fly ash, bottom ash, and flue-gas desulfurization sludge that contain mercury, uranium, thorium, arsenic, and other heavy metals.
There are severe health effects caused by burning coal. Cases of heart, lungs and skin illnesses will increase as a result of the plant pumping out tons of carbon emissions and dozens of noxious pollutants.
Sustained exposure to pollutants will turn the city’s already acidic agricultural lands produce less and more farms will either shut down or adopt to the demands of the environment.
Since pollutants are non-territorial, three or more years after, neighboring towns like Calatrava, Toboso, and Vallehermoso will begin to experience the same problems.
Then, people of the city and other provinces will begin to question its leadership for the existence in their area of two opposing energy systems, the dirtiest fossil fuel and the clean renewable solar energy system. The leadership will be perceived both as opportunist for accommodating both, and lack of development foresight and sense of humanity for getting the deadly facility to poison its people and neighbors.
And what if the new provincial board headed by pro-coal governor and vice governor will be inspired by the “success” of the San Carlos City coal-fired power plant, and reverse the renewable energy road map started by its former governor, and encourage investors to put up the same in other parts of the province?
The destruction in a small city will multiply to a larger scale, causing more disasters and sufferings.
What if the plan is aborted due to mass resistance and other mitigating factors?
San Carlos City might continue its advocacy for renewable energy started by its former mayor who became the vice governor, and expected to be the leader and guardian of the province after yesterday’s election.
But what if the likes of pro-coal millionaire Senator Cynthia Villar and the powerful pro-big business Senate Committee on energy and environment, will take up the cudgel for San Miguel and pursue the coal-fired power plant in San Carlos City?
The issue of coal will continue as a story of mass destruction, at the expense of this beautiful and rich island.