Govt set to send power barges in Mindanao
Written by : JOVEE MARIE N. DELA CRUZ, LLANESCA T. PANTI REPORTERS AND AL JACINTO
MALACAÑANG on Saturday said that the government would be sending power barges in Mindanao to ease the region’s worsening power crisis, even as a lawmaker pushed for government to take over Mindanao private power barges as option to solve the crisis.
Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte in an interview added that President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Secretary Jose Rene Almendras and some concern Cabinet member are now discussing both short and long-term goals to address Mindanao’s power shortage.
Earlier Almendras said that the power shortage is expected to last until 2013 although there are already enough projects underway to address the lack of electricity by 2014 through 2016.
At the House of Representatives, Rep. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna Party-list and Chairman of the House Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship pushed for government takeover of private barges in Mindanao to address the power shortage as he cited, “It appears that there is enough power supply in Mindanao. The problem is that it is too expensive so the power distributors are not buying for fear of going bankrupt.”
Casiño attributed the dramatic increase of power rates in Mindanao to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation or PSALM’s decision to privatize the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) which then entered into an Ancillary Services Procurement Agreement or ASPA with Therma Marine, Inc. involving two privatized power barges, Power Barges 117 and 118.
Under the ASPA, Therma Marine would sell additional power to the Mindanao grid at a more expensive rate than when the power barges were still being used as baseload plants. Using the ASPA, the NGCP obtained a provisional authority for new power rates.
“Temporarily taking over the power barges will lower prices allowing power distributors to buy cheaper power and supply it to customers,” he added.
No to coal power
Despite the worsening power situation in Zamboanga City, residents are still opposing the putting up of a coal-fired power plant, saying its effect on human health and the environment would be a disaster.
“No. We will oppose the coal-fired power plant because it is dirty and poses grave danger to our health and the environment,” said Josephine Pareja, village chieftain of Talisayan, about 20 kilometers from downtown Zamboanga where Conal Holdings Corporation is putting up a 100-megawatt fossil fuel power plant.
Pareja has led many street protests and demonstrations to dramatize their strong opposition to the coal-fired power plant.
The group Akbayan is also opposing the coal-fired power plant and also led several demonstrations in Zamboanga. It said the power plant will bring more harm than good.
Zamboanga’s daily power consumption is about 100-megawatts and the local electric cooperative gets a little over half of its total requirements from the National Power Corporation. The city reels from daily power outages lasting as long as 8 hours.
Conal Holdings has already signed a memorandum of agreement with the Zamboanga City Freeport and Economic Zone for the fossil fuel power station. It was also granted a so-called “no-objection” resolution from the Zamboanga City Council, although a few council members have rejected the project because of pollution and its effect to the environment.
Pro-environment groups said coal-fired power plants are the single largest stationary source of pollution in any country. The toxins these coal fired power plants produce severely damage both human health and the environment and contribute to a reduced quality of life.
Coal-fired power plants are responsible for release over 85 percent of total global carbon dioxide emissions, a prime contributor to global warming. Emissions from these power plants contain tens of dozens of toxic chemicals and the pollution they release every day are a major threat to human health and environment.
Coal-fired units produce electricity by burning coal in a boiler to heat water to produce steam. The steam, at tremendous pressure, flows into a turbine, which spins a generator to produce electricity. The steam is cooled, condensed back into water, and returned to the boiler to start the process over. But environmentalists say the coal-fired power plants will pollute the air and contribute to global warming.
There are at least 9 coal-fired power plants in the country – six in Luzon Island, two in the Visayas in central Philippines and one in Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
An international environmental organization Greenpeace said coal-fired power plant is a clear threat to sustainable development.
“Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and a main driver of climate change. There are hundreds of examples around the world where communities around coal plants suffer the impacts of environmental damage and health problems,” Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner, Amalie Obusan, said.
Greenpeace said data from the Department of Energy shows that there is already a 50 megawatts geothermal energy project committed for Mindanao that will be operational by 2014 and another 300 megawatts of indicative renewable energy projects scheduled for 2011-2017.
It also cited data from the Philippine Solar Power Alliance which show that as much as 100 megawatts of solar service contracts for Mindanao have been submitted to the Department of Energy.
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