Purchase of land for power plant hit

Local News Official
Local News OfficialSunStar File Photo

A LOCAL legislator has raised concerns about the acquisition of land for the waste-to-energy project in Barangay Guba that was undertaken without a public hearing.

During the executive session on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023, Cebu City Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos said New Sky Energy Philippines Inc. should have followed the public hearing procedure before acquiring the lot, as the residents of Barangay Guba might object to the construction of the waste-to-energy facility in their area.

“Prior to buying the land, don’t you think that it’s prudent for you to conduct a public hearing? What if the residents of Guba will not allow it? What will happen to your land?” De los Santos asked Razilee Ligaray, in-house legal counsel of New Sky Energy.

New Sky Energy, with which the Cebu City Government had entered into a joint venture agreement (JVA) for a waste-to-energy (WTE) facility, purchased a 6.9-hectare plot of land in Barangay Guba for the project.

Ligaray said once they conduct the public hearing, they aim to persuade the residents that the project is beneficial to their barangay, creating job opportunities without causing pollution.

She said they had not conducted a public hearing yet because they wanted to be certain about the project site, stressing that it is difficult to look for a site in Cebu City that meets all their requirements.

In the same session, Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, chairman of the committee on environment, said the project is “the way to go,” saying that New Sky Energy already has three WTE projects in Bangkok, Thailand and four WTE projects in Singapore that were environmentally compliant.

However, De los Santos said public hearings should be conducted first more than anything else, saying there are several laudable projects that were not able to take off due to public resistance.

She cited the power plant project of Ludo Power Corp. in Barangay Sawang Calero.

2016 experience

SunStar reports revealed that in April 2016, residents of the thickly populated Barangay Sawang Calero and the neighboring barangays of Pasil and Duljo-Fatima expressed concern about the impact a coal-fired power plant may have on their health and livelihood. According to a Change.Org petition, the residents were shocked that there had been no public consultation prior to the scheduled public hearing on April 17 of that year.

Days after the public hearing, the City Council disapproved the Ludo project, citing the lack of social acceptability from the residents of Sawang Calero, the failure of the proponent to submit a report on the projected impact of the project on the environment and what the company could do to address it; and the proposed site of the facility not conforming to the zoning ordinance of the City.

On Wednesday, Cebu City Councilor Nestor Archival said the required public hearing should be taken seriously because when the project was approved there was still no final area where the project would be constructed.

Joint venture

On Sept. 22, 2022, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama signed the notice of award to New Sky Energy Philippines Inc. to invest P4.8 billion in the construction of a facility that could accommodate 800 tons of garbage.

Ligaray said New Sky Energy will operate the facility for 40 years after the construction, before transferring the ownership to the City.

The WTE facility would burn collected garbage to produce pressurized steam that would be used to power electric generators. The facility would be able to provide electricity to 40,000 households.

Cebu City produces 600 tons of mixed waste per day, but it is indicated in the contract that there is no minimum amount of waste that the facility would require from the city.

Ligaray said the facility is capable of producing power at a total of 280 kilowatts per ton.

She said assuming the City would provide 500 tons of waste every day, the facility would also produce 140,000 kilowatts per day. However, she said the City would still pay the tipping fee, which is P1,000 per ton for the first three years, P1,150 per ton within the fourth and sixth year, and P1,300 per ton within the seventh to ninth year.

Profit sharing

Ligaray said under the JVA, Cebu City will receive three percent of the gross power sales revenues from the start of commercial operations over the power purchase agreement’s term. The City is also entitled to five percent of the revenues generated from the sale of all other by-products.

She added that if the WTE facility accepts waste from another local government unit (LGU) or institution, the City has the choice to impose a host fee, amounting to five percent of the tipping fee paid by that LGU or institution. / AML, CTL


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