Davao officials worried over proposed Aboitiz coal power plant

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/6 Oct) — Some officials are wary over the plan of Aboitiz Power Corporation to put up a 200-megawatt coal-fired plant in the city.

Councilor Pilar Braga, the chair of the city council committee on energy and transportation, said she looks forward to the company’s formal proposal so that the city council could start scrutinizing its possible impact in Davao City.

“They said they have new technology,” said Braga. “But we still have to see how good it is because they are proposing coal, and the perception is that it is not clean,” she said.

Erramon Aboitiz, Aboitiz Power president and chief executive officer, announced to reporters Tuesday that the company plans to put up a P15-billion coal-fired plant within the next three years to address the looming power shortage in Mindanao.

Davao City has been known for its environment-friendly legislations and for its staunch refusal to pollutive industries.

The plan to put up a coal-fired plant comes at the time when most of the developed economies are phasing out the coal mines.

Coal has been blamed as the top contributor of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Aboitiz said putting up a coal-powered plant will help address the projected power shortfall in Mindanao by 2014.

He also said the company is using “clean” technology that will greatly reduce harmful emissions.

Aboitiz said only a coal-fired plant can be built fast enough, and at a very affordable rate, to address the projected 480-megawatt power shortfall in Mindanao in the next three years.

The company plans to tap the coal supply from Kalimantan, Indonesia, which is very close to Mindanao.

Top executives of Aboitiz Power and Aboitiz-owned Davao Light and Power Company and Hedcor had met up with Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and some councilors before they announced the proposal to the media.

“I won’t stand to say there would be no problem in the environment; there is,” Aboitiz said in a press briefing. “But just like what we do with cars, we reduce our carbon footprints. But we can’t totally eliminate them.”

He also said that the company will tap the technology they use in their Cebu coal-powered plant to reduce the pollutive effects.

Braga said the vice mayor seemed to favor the proposal.

But she said the city council will await the company’s formal proposal asking for the city council’s endorsement for the project.

“We hope they can do it fast so that we can subject it to the council’s regular grind,” she said.

“I’m in favor of an energy mix — hydropower and other renewable energies, like geothermal — but this is new,” Braga said, referring to coal. “We still have to see how good it is.”

Earlier, Mayor Sara Duterte said a coal-fired plant, like mining, would not be welcome in the city.

“Just like mining, it will only give us more problems in the long term,” she told reporters during a regular briefing at City Hall.

Aboitiz said a coal-fired plant serves as a faster and more affordable answer to the looming power shortfall projected in Mindanao in 2014. Business leaders and exporters had earlier expressed concern over the projected power shortage without new power capacity being put up in Southern Mindanao, one of the biggest power consumers in the island. (Germelina Lacorte / MindaNews)