SO IT has come to this. It’s not about protecting the environment, or for preparing for the future. The cat is out of the bag.
It’s about money. And perhaps the survival not of future but that of the present generation.
Despite the glut of solar electric power in Negros Occidental, San Carlos local officials are counting their chickens because the eggs are hatched. They expect an annual income of P500 million from the proposed 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant.
That would pit their local interest against that of the province, if not the country or the world for that matter.
Problem is, the P500 million is an expectation, maybe even wishful thinking.
As US President Donald Trump is finding out. Trump promised to revive the besieged coal industry by overturning an Obama-era coal emissions rule to make it easier to open new plants.
The San Carlos local government is forgetting something: the market to get those moolahs, the coal power must first generate revenues.
“Coal is just an expensive technology that can no longer compete,” said Kingsmill Bond, the new energy strategist at Carbon Tracker, a think tank that examines the relationship between energy and financial markets.
The boom in solar and wind power in the United States will soon be the king of the hill. Coal will be last week’s stale fish sold in the public markets.
Renewable energy, led by solar and wind, is projected to be the fastest-growing source of US electricity generation for at least the next two years, according to a recent US Energy Department report.
According to a CNN news report, “Boosted by swiftly falling prices, utility-scale solar power is expected to increase by 10 percent in 2019 and 17 percent in 2020.
Wind power should grow 12 percent and 14 percent in those years, vaulting it ahead of hydropower for the first time.
San Carlos officials are expecting annual revenue of P200 million in taxes, another P200 million in real property tax, and P100 million in business tax once the plant starts to operate.
But they didn’t stop to think that coal technology is yesterday’s darling and trying to extend its lease in life by dumping an outdated technology to a third world country.
As San Carlos Diocese Bishop Gerardo Alminaza pointed out “Because of poverty, people did not develop to think critically.”