Agham’s Palmones defends coal-fired power plant

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/07 January) – Agham Party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones has asked the public to ignore calls made by leftist and environment groups to oppose the plan to build a coal-fired power plant in Sarangani province in Southwestern Mindanao.

In a radio interview, Palmones said the people should not listen to the “uproar” of groups opposed to the project “because the need to resolve the power crisis in Mindanao is a lot imperative.”

He cited in particular the calls made by Greenpeace to reject the proposed coal-fired power plant in Maasim, Sarangani.

Hindi tayo dapat diktahan ng mga taong ayaw sa ganito’ng teknolohiya (We must not be dictated upon by people who are opposed to this kind of technology). We have to prioritize the power crisis as this would slow the growth of Mindanao’s economy,” he said.

A group of indigenous peoples is also opposing the proposed Pulangi V hydropower dam project in southern Bukidnon, saying it will desecrate a sacred area believed to be the burial ground of one of their most revered ancestors, Apo Mamalu.

“The power requirement that is needed urgently in Mindanao is new base load capacity. Those opposing plans to put up additional power generation must come up with viable alternatives,” Palmones said.

Palmones hails from Kidapawan City, site of two geothermal power plants operated by the Energy Development Corporation.

The city, being host to the geothermal plants, was spared from daily power interruptions that lasted for hours in most parts of Mindanao due to the El Nino dry spell that hit the island last year.

“If coal proves to be the most cost-effective solution then we should focus our efforts in mitigating its environmental impact rather than ban it outright,” said Palmones.

The Alcantara-led Conal Holdings Corporation plans to begin by the first quarter this year construction of its US $450-million coal-fired plant in the coastal town of Maasim.

Reports said the firm is currently finalizing the processing of various government requirements for the release of the necessary permits for the 200-megawatt coal-fired plant, which is expected to help ease Mindanao’s power deficit.

Proponents of the Pulangi V dam also expected the project to start this year.

In November last year, Palmones authored House Resolution 634, which urged the Department of Energy (DoE) to inform the House of Representatives of the status of the electric power industry in Mindanao and lay down plans to avert an energy crisis. Thirty lawmakers from Mindanao already signed the resolution, he said.

“But sad to say, the DoE has only relied, as their contingency plan, on power barges or generators, which we can’t use for so long because of high costs,” he said. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)