Editorial: Power plant plan suffers setback

FROM the very start, the plan of Ludo Power Corp. to construct a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Sawang Calero, a thickly populated barangay in Cebu City, looked difficult to realize considering the hurdles it has to overcome. Ludo failed to surmount the first hurdle yesterday with the Cebu City Council’s rejection of the project yesterday.

City Councilor Nida Cabrera, chairperson of the City Council’s committee on environment, cited two reasons for the rejection: one, that the proposed coal-fired power plant is hazardous to the environment and, two, that Sawang Calero is an industrial district 1 zone, which does not allow the construction of such a facility there.

In a way, this is one City Council decision that may not end up as controversial even if Mayor Michael Rama is not against the project and two Team Rama councilors, Noel Wenceslao and Richard Osmeña had favorably endorsed it in the City Council. (In the session yesterday, Wenceslao and Osmeña withdrew their resolution to this effect.) Cabrera is with the rival Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).

We do not know what the next move of Ludo would be because its spokesperson, Nelson Yuvallos, refused to comment on the City Council’s decision yesterday. The firm may not give up that easily considering that it has already spent time, effort and money to push for the project. Its moves included bringing some government officials and reporters to Pangasinan for a visit to an already operating  “clean” coal-fired power plant.

But first, Ludo has to assess what went wrong. One good point to discuss is the claim that the firm attempted to speed up the realization of the plan. For a project that inherently is an invitation to controversy considering coal-fired power plant’s image, no way could its implementation be rushed. Dealing with negative perceptions, for one, needs time.

Given the current situation, it might be best for Ludo to do what it should have done early on, which is to look for other places in Cebu where it can build a coal-fired power plant with fewer hurdles to surmount.
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