IT APPEARS that we are offered two scenarios that have something to do with the production of energy and the need to preserve our environment to sustain existence of life forms on earth.

The situation is developing into an interesting conflict of interest and needs and has generated a need for balance.

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On one hand, there’s our material demand, and on the other, there’s our natural needs.

Just a few days ago, there was this report that the people of Naga had fretted about an alleged “indiscriminate dumping of coal ash” from a coal-fired power plant, that endangers the health of the people living in the vicinity.

The City Government, acting on the alarm of the surrounding residents, demanded explanation from the plant officials.

Balance

This incident highlights the need to balance power generation to meet economic demands with the imperatives of public safety.

Coal will continue to be the major fuel for power generation in the Philippines from now until 2030, reports say.

Thus, a coal-fired power plant was inaugurated by no less than the President herself in Toledo City last week.

The difference in reception is largely about technology, strategy, and anticipatory planning, with the serious intent to preserve the environment.

When the Electric Power Reform Act (Epira) was enacted, it was observed that the profile of country’s power industry was completely altered.

From being a monopoly “during the Napocor regime, it has evolved into a very competitive industry, particularly in the generation side.”

Epira’s ultimate objective is to give electricity consumers the freedom to choose their supplier of electricity.

The name of the game is efficiency.

Technology

The technology used in the Toledo City plant, called circulating fluidized bed, may have spelled the difference between it and the Naga plant, since both are coal-fired operations.

The consortium behind the Toledo plant put together $450 million, or P20 billion, and intends to generate a total of 246 mw.

It has placed on the market 72-mw from its first plant, and plans to inaugurate the second plant in June, and the third in December.

The lead business group of the consortium, the Cebu Energy Development Corp. has assured the city’s population that “we take care of our environment while producing the energy we all need so that more jobs, more growth can be possible for the Filipino.”

That, in essence, is being a good corporate citizen in a country that is striving to address a rising poverty level in a supposedly modernizing nation.