Groups oppose expansion of Iloilo City coal plant

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ILOILO CITY—Advocacy groups are opposing a plan to expand the 164-megawatt coal-fired power plant in this city.

Citing environmental concerns, the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and an urban poor federation, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay-Panay), have called for the rejection of the construction of a 150-MW of Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC).

FDC-Iloilo is campaigning against the issuance of an environmental certificate of compliance by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

PEDC, a subsidiary of Metrobank Group’s Global Business Power Corp., plans to put up the new plant estimated to cost P6 billion at its property in Barangay Ingore in La Paz District, the site of its $104-million 164-MW coal-fired power plant.

The expansion is aimed at increasing energy supply in the Visayas, which has been projected to require an additional supply of at least 50 MW in 2016.

But FDC said expanding the coal plant would heighten the environmental and health risks, especially on the highly populated communities near the facility.

Ted Aldwin Ong, the group’s secretary general, said coal plants should be eliminated, not expanded, amid the worsening impact of global warming and climate change.

PEDC has insisted that the coal plant uses environmentally safe technology. It said its emissions were within the environmental standards posed by international and local agencies.

The company supplies about 65 MW to the Panay Electric Company (Peco) from its coal plant and at least 15 MW from its diesel plants, operated by Panay Power Corp. Peco is the city’s lone power distributor servicing 53,000 households, commercial establishments and offices.

It also supplies the Iloilo Electric Cooperatives, Capiz Electric Cooperative, Antique Electric Cooperative, Aklan Electric Cooperative and Central Negros Electric Cooperative Inc.

Pergerie Panila, spokesperson of Kadamay-Panay, said the proponents had promised cheaper electricity rates and fewer, if not the absence of, brownouts. “But Ilonggos still bear one of the highest electricity rates and we still suffer regular brownouts,” he said.

Consumers in Iloilo must also pay the full price of the contracted power supply of PEDC even if they do not consume all the electricity, he added.

Environmental and church groups have opposed the putting of the original coal plant in Iloilo City. However, government agencies approved the project with the support of business and political leaders of the city.

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