Maitum in “wait-and-see” posture over proposed coal-fired power plant

"So far, the sentiment of the people is in a wait and see mode," said Mayor Elsie R. Perret of Maitum, 107 kilometers west of here. "Our people still have to see or understand the good the coal fired power plant will bring to the locality or how environmentally-friendly it will be."

Perret had earlier said she was wary about the coal-fired power plant project, saying that local officials were "apprehensive over the impact of the coal-fired power plant project to their environment.”

Elizabeth R. Palma Gil, Maitum information officer, said the Catholic Church in Maitum will  hold a one-day forum on April 12 among the various social and economic sectors in the community to help shed more information about the project and its impact on the community..

Palma Gil said Church organizers have invited resource speakers from environmental group Greenpeace, the independent power producer Southern Philippines Power Corp, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan.

Government executives and tourism officials have marketed Maitum as an eco-tourism destination of Sarangani province, with river tire-tubing adventure as main attraction.

Joseph C. Nocos, Alsons' spokesperson for the coal-fired power plant project, ha assured officials that the plant would be "environmentally-friendly,” citing advanced available technologies and the company's plan to pursue massive tree planting activities.

Conal Holdings Corp, the proponent of the power plant is controlled by Filipino group, Alsons Corp., with 60 percent stake, and the rest is owned by Thailand's biggest power producer, Electricity Generating Public Company (EGCO).

The proponent has said that Maitum was being considered to host its planned $350 million coal-fired power plant although Nocos was yet to give the latest project updates. He earlier said that the feasibility study for the 200-megawatt power plant should have been completed last month.

Nocos also disclosed that aside from Maitum, the company was also considering the town of Kiamba, also in Sarangani, and some sites in Davao del Sur province for possible location of the plant.

Company officials said last September that they expected the new 200-megawatts coal-fired power plant to be operational by the third quarter of 2011, with coal to be imported from Kalimantan, Indonesia. It was also announced that the plant's capacity will be expanded to 900 megawatts in 200-300 megawatts increment to keep in step with the growth of the Mindanao economy. (MindaNews)