BROWNOUTS in Bacolod if not the province are getting to be a daily pain in the buns. I totally agree that we cannot expect Bacolod with the power shortages.

According to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, the demand for power supply in Negros island is at 235 megawatts and its power deficit is at least 177 megawatts, Cebu province's power demand is at 606 megawatts and its power deficit is at 380 megawatts while there is a power demand of 220 megawatts for Panay Island and its power deficit is projected at 121 megawatts.

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More power plants with additional power capacity, as Antonio Labios insisted, should be established to resolve the Visayans power crisis and in the rest of the country. Labios is DOE's Visayan Director.

The rub, however, is how. Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. admitted openness to the establishment of a coal-fired power plant in the province to meet the current power supply shortage.

Stressing the need for Negros to produce its own power, Marañon assured the public he would ensure the installation of the proper pollution control equipment to protect the environment. "Japan and Taiwan have coal-fired power plants and you do not see any smoke coming out of them," Marañon insisted.

That pronouncement is bucking the global trend toward renewables. In the last three years, China shut down more than a thousand older coal-fired power plants that used technology of the sort still common in the USA. China has also surpassed the rest of the world as the biggest investor in wind turbines and other clean energy technology.

Admittedly, though, that while China has passed the USA in the average efficiency of its coal-fired power plants, demand for electricity is so voracious that China last year built new coal-fired plants with a total capacity greater than all existing power plants in New York State.

Coal is one of the most abundant natural resources, providing around a quarter of the world's total energy and powers over 40% of the world's electricity supplies. But it's also one of the dirtiest with the world's 2,300 coal-fired power stations contributing 40% of all human-made emissions, according to the World Coal Institute.

So, talking of clean energy in terms of Taiwan is not re-assuring and by recent Chinese standards should probably have to be close down. Worse, what other countries consider short-term solutions seems to be THE long-term solution.

In other words, why the hang-up on coal-fired plants and no other plans on the long-term energy mixed solutions for renewables? An average coal-fueled power plant converts a mere 33% of its fuel to usable energy services. Consumers end up paying more for inefficient and pollutive power generation.

Maybe against my better judgment, I can compromise on coal-fired plants. But I want to see the standards that these companies will follow. Being smokeless is a bad standard. After all, carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas which is lighter than air. It is highly toxic to human. We might end up paying more for toxic clean-ups, jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

One final note; according to the governor, Negros Occidental has not had a coal-fired plant because in the past, rallies were organized to block attempts to build similar plants in the province. He slammed these protests, saying the rallyists were paid to stage them.

Whoa, that's way too much. I know Romana de los Reyes, a leader of the Negrosanons Against Coal-Fired Power Plants. She might disagree with my compromise; maybe even suspect me of being paid to write that line. But one thing I'm sure, no one is paying them as well as the other oppositors.

In my case, I'll plead guilty on getting paid. Sun.Star Bacolod Publishing, Inc. pays me to write my opinions for my columns. (Wink, wink). But the company doesn't interfere with what this paper's OP-ED writers' take on issues. The only thing we are all concerned is that we write well, and follow ethical and journalistic standards.

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