EITHER coal or not, the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) is backing the entry of a power plant in the northern part of Negros Occidental.
Provided, however, it is stable and reliable, its president Roberto Montelibano said.
Montelibano, at the sidelines of the ongoing 11th Negros Business Week at Robinsons Place Bacolod, said power demand is an indicator of an economic activity in an area.
He told SunStar Bacolod that in terms of population, Negros Occidental is second to Pangasinan and yet the former does not have its own power plant.
"That is why, we are proposing a power plant to be built in the north to support our growing demand," he said, adding that "we will continue to look for stable and reliable baseload for Negros Island."
The business chamber official underscored that Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) is one of the biggest cooperatives in the country, probably next to Batangas province.
Ceneco caters to the largest number of electric consumers in the province particularly in cities of Bacolod, Bago, Talisay and Silay and towns of Murcia and Salvador Benedicto.
It caters to almost half of the entire island's demand, Montelibano said.
The two other cooperatives are Northern Negros Electric Cooperative (Noneco) and Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (Noceco), catering to consumers in the north and south, respectively.
In terms of power generation in Negros Occidental, there was a reported proposal to build a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant by SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. in San Carlos City.
Oppositions, however, stemmed from various groups including the youth, church and other environment advocates.
In March this year, former governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. already issued an Executive Order (EO) declaring the province coal-free.
Prior to this, as early as October last year, Marañon also proposed an ordinance to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) declaring the entire Negros Occidental coal-free, clean energy and environment-friendly province.
In fact, the constant oppositions on the proposed coal-fired power plant development in the province were one of the concerns that welcomed the new administration.
Amid criticisms, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said he has no plans to repeal the EO issued by his predecessor.
Lacson clarified that he has not approved the power plant, pointing out that neither the Office of the Governor nor the Office of the Vice Governor has the authority to issue a building permit for the proponent.
For the local business sector, they are backing coal generation in the province as it is the only proposal for now.
Montelibano, however, pointed out that what Negros really needs is a stable power source.
"We are not limiting to coal-fired power plant. We are also looking for other sources like the previous proposal for wind power," he said, adding that "because we want to continue inviting investors to Negros."
Montelibano added that business cannot grow without power. "Any power source can be, as long as it is reliable."