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Aquino not keen on coal-free Palawan

/ 12:33 PM May 28, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – While he is willing to dialogue with local stakeholders, President Benigno Aquino III has expressed skepticism that Palawan’s energy needs will be addressed without the use of coal power plants.

“Kailangan mo iyong tinatawag na base load plants (We need what we call base load plants),” Aquino on Tuesday told a reporter asking if Palawan could be “spared” from DMCI Power Corporation’s proposed 15-megawatt coal fired power plant.

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Baseload power plants are crucial sources of energy that are able to continuously supply electricity throughout the year. Coal-fired plants are among the usual baseload power sources.

Aquino explained that solar energy will not suffice because it is dependent on “prevailing weather conditions” and that he was not sure of the hydroelectric capacity of the province.

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“So far, ang talagang reliable na available for Palawan in particular is coal or diesel (So far, the really reliable sources of energy for Palawan is coal or diesel),” he said.

“It’s back to a question of: ‘Do we want power or not?’” he added, explaining that Palawan needs adequate energy to cater to the 10 million tourists projected for 2016.

“A lot of these tourists will be going to Palawan. I am sure you are aware of all the developments that are happening here plus iyong airport, i-u-upgrade din natin. And all of that plus the upstream and downstream industries will need power. And if it’s not available, then practically we are saying, parang wala na rin iyong tourism na big industry dito or iyong growth, or projected growth,” he pointed out.

(A lot of these tourists will be going to Palawan. I am sure you are aware of all the developments that are happening here, including the upgrading of the airport. And all of that plus the upstream and downstream industries will need power. And if it’s not available, then practically we are saying, we won’t have the projected growth from tourism, which is a big industry here.)

Nevertheless, the President said it is the local community that will decide on the matter.

“So at the end of the day, we don’t impose. We will dialogue with you and with the local community but it has to be a common decision based on the available facts,” he said.

Aquino said the government is exploring gas as energy source though it is more expensive than natural gas and the country has yet to build a regasification plant.

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“So [we return to considering] coal or diesel [as] base load. Then, again, we will dialogue with you. You tell us, you are the bosses here,” he said.

Aquino was in Palawan for the 116th anniversary of the Philippine Navy.

DMCI Power’s proposed coal-fired power plant has been met by protests from residents and the local Church.

Officials of the Western Philippines University earlier told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the proposed site of the power plant, in Barangay San Juan, Aborlan was near a fish sanctuary.

In December last year, the Palawan Regional Trial Court issued a temporary environmental protection order against the plant after residents filed a petition. The new set of village officials of San Juan at the time revoked the endorsement of the previous village council that voted in favour of DMCI Powers’ project.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, coal plant, Energy, Energy Crisis, Palawan
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