Davao begins review of Aboitiz’s proposed P25B coal-fired power plant

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/2 March) – The Sangguniang Panlungsod will soon start review of the proposal by Aboitiz Power Corp. to build a P25-billion coal-fired power plant in this city.

The proposed plant, to be built in Barangay Binugao of the city’s Toril District, will have a generating capacity of 300 megawatts.

During its regular session on Tuesday, the city council decided that Aboitiz Power’s proposal will be mulled over by four committees – energy, transportation and communication; health; environment; trade, commerce and industry – who are expected to conduct hearings on the issue.

Erramon I. Aboitiz, president and chief executive officer of AP, said in a letter-request addressed to the city council on Feb. 22 that the Therma South Energy project needs the city council’s endorsement for it to be pushed through.

“It surely will be the largest investment ever made in Davao City or this region of Mindanao. The benefits of this clean coal power project can make Davao the most competitive city in Mindanao – perhaps even the Philippines,” he said, adding that the plant will help solve Mindanao’s energy crisis.

Aboitiz Power is targetting completion of the power plant by mid-2014 if they secure the necessary approvals and permits on time. He added that the firm’s subsidiary, Therma South, Inc., is also currently collecting social and natural environmental data for inclusion in the project environmental impact statement.

“AP will do its utmost to strictly comply with environmental laws and regulatory requirements and accepted international standards, as well as implement preventive measures beyond what are required as part of our commitment to the protection of the environment and residents. We take pride in responsible and sustainable development,” Aboitiz said.

He assured that they would use an environmental-friendly circulating fluidized bed combustion technology to reduce the generation of sulfur and nitrogen oxides within the furnace during the combustion process.

But critics are not convinced.

Vince A. Cinches, a campaigner for 350.org, an international movement for climate justice, said that the so-called clean coal technology does not change the fact that coal is the single biggest source of climate-changing greenhouse gasses.

“Davaoeños should stop dirty, unsustainable and polluting sources of energy. Coal is not the only option in addressing the needs for increasing energy demand. Coal is actually more expensive because it destroys our environment, affecting health of the communities, and threatening our food security,” he said.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio earlier said she was “lukewarm” on the project, but added that it would be the city council, not her, who will have the final say on the project.

City councilors, upon Aboitiz Power’s sponsorship, visited the 232-megawatt coal-fired plant of the Steag State Power, Inc. in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental last month.

Councilor Pilar Braga, chair of the city council’s committee on energy, transportation and communication, said they noticed the power plant’s quiet operation and minimal harmful emissions.

“Although the power plant might be similar to the proposal of Aboitiz, we need to discuss it further soon. As for my part, especially as chair of the energy committee, I could not say yet if I am for the proposed coal-fired plant of Aboitiz,” she added. (MindaNews)