EXCEPT in the past couple of days, a spate of brownouts hit our sector of this island province. Toledo City is the power source of the Cebu Electric Cooperative (Cebeco) III. Either there was a breakdown in the Cebeco III machine, or a power shortage hit its system.

Either way, it was an inconvenience to subscribers, who must contend with hours of hopeless inactivity. But whatever its cause, the problem still spelled out simply as power shortage.

This situation, I believe, is a matter that has evolved as a common problem for us who live in the contemporary global condition.

It is a matter of survival for all of us to have continuous power not only to generate products of commerce but also to operate our household appliances for our convenience and ease of living. But we also need to look after our natural habitat to preserve that which would sustain our natural life on earth.

These things now, sad to say, have come in conflict with each other. For instance, an environment court in Mandaue City has issued an ex-parte temporary environmental protection order (Tepo), against a group of power generators in Naga and Toledo cities, enjoining them not to move their power generation wastes.

The Tepo was issued in answer to the petition of a group of concerned environmentalists. It enjoins the said power generators, which are using coal-fired power plants, to “refrain from transporting coal ash outside their premises.”

Now, if the coal-fired power plants could not move their coal ash waste, they would soon be swamped with the material and would not be able to operate. If they cannot generate power, we suffer power shortages.

But for months now, coal-fired power plant operators have been trying to prove that their coal ash waste is not harmful to the environment. It can be used as fertilizer mix and even as cement mix. In fact, the Cebu Energy Development Corp. announced last week that their 100-hectare reforestation area in Toledo is now using coal ash as fertilizer.

Now, the two groups that obviously are similarly concerned about the same thing—the preservation and sustenance of human life—should work together to attain a common goal instead of fight each other.

Yes, we need power to survive. And we need to live in a healthy environment.