Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sering mad, Revilla sad on Mindanao’s shift to non-renewable energy

MANILA (MindaNews/20 October) — Climate Change Commissioner Lucille Sering is mad over proposals to set up a coal-fired power plant in her hometown in Surigao City, while actress-representative Lani Mercado-Revilla is sad about the shift to non-renewable energy in Mindanao.

Sering, who belongs to a prominent political family in Surigao, said she felt “very mad” upon hearing that a coal-fired power plant is being proposed in Surigao City.

Last month, Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Matugas said a group of Korean investors had expressed interest in putting up a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in the city.

Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla said she is saddened by the fact that in a climate-changing world, Mindanao is reversing from renewable energy to climate-changing fossil fuel-generated power plants.

Sering and Revilla were guest speakers at the Aksyon Klima National Consultation Tuesday in the Millenia Suites in Ortigas. Aksyon Klima is a broad alliance of civil society organization working on climate change.

Revilla said that one of the bills she is planning to file in the 15th House of Representatives is a bill that would measure the Carbon emissions of projects. Revilla s a member of the House Committee on Ecology.

Mindanao has over 1,000 mw of installed hydro electric power generation capacity, with about 730-mw from the Agus hydro electric complex in Lake Lanao and 255-mw from the Pulangi 4 hydro electric power plant in Bukidnon. Several other smaller hydro plants are scattered around the island.

The Mt. Apo Geothermal Power Plant has an installed capacity of 110-mw.

In the 1980s up to 1990, Mindnao’s hydropower was 90-percent. From then on, however, the share of renewable hydro power started to dip to about 60-percent in 2007. Current estimates indicate that the renewable energy contribution of hydro and geothermal to the power mix of the Mindanao grid is about 40 percent.

The decrease in the renewable energy contribution is attributed to the aging power plants which were built in the 1970s and the early 1980s and the entry of more diesel and coal-fired power plants.

Environmentalists are worried that with the imminent power shortage in the island, fossil-fuel based power plants will seize the opportunity of putting up their power plants.

In Davao City, relations have been strained between daughter Mayor Sara Duterte and her Vice mayor father Rodrigo Duterte over the proposed 200-mw coal-fired power plant in Davao City by Aboitiz Power. But Mayor Duterte a few days ago had hinted she might change her mind with regard to the proposal of a power firm to build a coal-fired power plant to avert possible power outages and shortfall.

Duterte said she was torn between protecting the environment and the possibility of power shortage in the city in the next three years if she continues to refuse investments in coal-fired power plants.

“The increase or decrease of our electric bills would depend largely on how near or far the power plant is,” Duterte said, echoing the anxieties of the business sector over the absence of new powerinvestments in Southern Mindanao.

In Maasim, Sarangani, residents are building up their opposition to the 200-megawatt proposed coal-fired power plant by Conal Holdings with the flagship of Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior reportedly making a port call in Saranggani later this month to dramatize opposition to coal.

In Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental, community groups and environmentalists are starting to re-group to oppose the planned expansion by 150-mw the Steag Coal-fired Power Plant in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental. Thirty four per cent of the coal plants’ share has already been bought by Aboitiz Power.

Several hydro electric power plants are in the pre-development stage in the island though, among them the 132-mw Bulanog-Batang run-of-the-river hydro power plant in Cagayan de Oro and Talakag, Bukidnon, the 300-mw Pulangi 5 hydro electric power plant in southern Bukidnon and several other smaller hydro plants around the island.

The National Framework Strategy for Climate Change (2010 – 2022) project the doubling from 4,500 mw to 9,000 mw the renewable energy generation capacity of the country in the next 20 years.

With recent developments however, environmentalists fear that the renewable energy share in the country’s power sector will decrease. Last week, to dramatize the push for renewable energy, activists from Greenpeace delivered solar panels to Malacanang along with the demand to double the country’s renewable energy generation capacity in the term of President Benigno S. Aquino III. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)

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