MANY years ago, we had the chance to have a nuclear power plant with a project in Bataan. But politics, corruption and fear of anything that reminded us of atom bombs scuttled the Bataan project even as government had to pay a multimillion-peso interest for the loan for the project.

Had the plant become operational, there would not have been a Luzon power shortage.

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That Bataan nuclear power plant was projected to produce something like four and a half billion megawatts of electricity every hour. This was estimated to be worth P20 billion at current rate. But such a prospect failed to dazzle our leaders, an indication of either short-sightedness or blatant indifference to the common welfare.

Now, Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia is reported to be “seriously considering” putting up a nuclear power plant to address Cebu’s future power needs.

Recently Cebu residents experienced staggered “brownouts” of a few minutes in the city and in some municipalities. It is annoying to be hit by a brown out in the middle of a sentence in your computer, especially if you forgot to save every other sentence you have written, as it often happened to me.

I am not admitting to be more forgetful these days, but it happens when one is already in his late seventies. But we are talking about our growing need for more power. President Arroyo, despite accusations of having mismanaged the national welfare, doesn’t seem to be affected by it. Her critics are going after her with undue gusto, and so she dances, but more with exhilaration than with pain.

As I write this, she was set to go to Toledo City to inaugurate a coal-fired 246-megawatt power plant. It is supposed to alleviate the projected power shortage in the region.

The power plant is reportedly utilizing the “Circular fluidized bed boiler technology which ensures that coal emissions from the plant are within standards set by the Clean Air Act of 1999. The plant’s construction started in June 2008, and it started supplying 82 megawatts to the Visayas grid just last month.

Yesterday, the Toledo power plant was switched on by President Arroyo. Thus, Cebu is now assured of 246-megawatt power supply, providing us with enough power to move on with our region’s needs for some time.

But the idea of a nuclear power source is titillating enough.

Having missed such opportunity in the past, we do not want future Cebuanos to experience similar regrets because of their inability to anticipate future needs, and the lack of political will.