‘Coal’ issue unites mayor, guv

AMID the opposition of environment group Sulog on the construction of two more coal-fired power plants in Misamis Oriental, the top officials of Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental who are political rivals have endorsed the plants.

In politics, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno and Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano are tagged as nemesis, but the issue on coal-fired power plant did not stop them from expressing their support to the project.

The two never doubted their support to the construction of the coal-fired power plants in Misamis Oriental since both are looking at the economic benefit the power plants will pour in the province.

Emano and Moreno believe these power plants will spur the economy in the province, providing jobs to the residents and stable power supply, which is one of the key factors in increasing investments in the region.

Emano, who spoke before the crowd during the ceremonial ground breaking of the coal-fired power plant project of FDC Misamis Power Corporation (FDC Misamis) on November 21, said that power is vital for his eco-tourism development programs in the province.

Despite the growing clamor from various groups against planned, both did not budge.

The proponents of the two proposed power plants are the FDC Misamis and Mindanao Energy Systems Inc. (Minergy).

FDC Misamis is a subsidiary of FDC Utilities Inc., the utilities and infrastructure arm of the Filinvest Development Corporation (FDC).

The 405-megawatt FDC Misamis plant is expected to be operational in 2016. It will use the new “circulating fluidized bed” technology that ensures to emit clean smoke.

The Minergy plant, to be built in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, will produce 110 megawatts.

In a text message, Marilyn Chavez, customer and community relations department manager of Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company (Cepalco), Minergy’s sister company, said the 110-megawatt thermal plant that Minergy will build is still on its conceptual stage.

A necessity

In previous separate statements, both Emano and Moreno agreed that the addition of these coal-fired power plants is a necessity not only for Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental to grow but the whole Mindanao as well.

In a television interview, Emano was quoted as saying that, “Dugay naman ang Steag, naa ba kitay nadunggan nga reklamo (Steag has been operating for a few years already, but have we heard of any complaints?).”

Steag State Power Inc. operates a coal-fired power plant at the Phividec Industrial Estate in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.

The Steag plant, which started its operation in 2006, produces about 210 megawatt of power that it feeds into the Mindanao grid.

Emano added: “If we find out that they (coal-fired power plant proponents) will not follow the Clean Air Act, I, for one, will join in stopping them.”

In a telephone interview Wednesday, provincial information officer Lito Rulona said Emano has maintained his pro coal-fired power plant stance despite the brewing opposition.

“So far, maintain man gyapon ang iyang (Emano) stand,” Rulona said.

Rulona added that Emano left for Tacloban City on Monday to check the status of the provincial team conducting medical mission there.

In a previous news article, Moreno admitted that he even encouraged Minergy and FDC Misamis to go ahead with the putting up of their coal-fired power plant projects in the province.

‘Clean coal’

Meanwhile, Engr. Loreto Moncada of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Alternative Fuels Division, said that personally he is not opposed to the use of coal of generate power.

“We already have a ‘clean coal’ technology,” Moncada told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro during the Alternative Fuels Stakeholders Forum held in the city Tuesday.

Moncada added that aside from Mindanao, there are other areas in the country that use coal and so far he has not heard of any complaints.

“As a consumer myself, and pinaka-economical pa din is coal,” he said.

Moncada said in the light of the Mindanao power crisis, the DOE’s power and planning bureaus are drawing up plans to address the energy situation in the island.
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