Construction of 200-MW coal power plant in Sarangani begins

GENERAL SANTOS CITY  (MindaNews/27 November) — It’s all systems go for the  controversial Alcantara-led coal power plant project in a world-class diving spot in nearby Maasim, Sarangani, with groundbreaking rites held last Friday.

Tomas I. Alcantara, chair and president of Alsons Consolidated Resources (ACR), led the groundbreaking rites for the $450 million coal-fired power plant, the first phase involving 100 megawatts (MW) targeted for completion by 2014.

Alcantara said the entire project will generate about 200 MW of “safe, reliable and affordable energy” to the people of Socsargen (South Cotabato, Sarangani and General Santos City) and the rest of Mindanao and will provide employment to at least 500 workers during the construction period. Around 150 workers will be hired when the plant goes on stream, with preference for local residents, he added.

The power plant will employ modern and world-class equipment and technology to ensure “minimal environmental impact,” he said.

Religious, civil and militant organizations and environmental groups are opposing the coal power plant citing adverse effects on health and the environment.

Last year, the opposition gained international support with the sailing of Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace’s advocacy ship, in Maasim town.

Alcantara said that as part of the company’s commitment to protect and enrich the ecosystem of Sarangani Bay, they would continue restocking or dispersing various species of fish produced in the nurseries of an affiliate company.

“This is our effort to ensure the continued health of our waters and the protection of the livelihood of our fisherfolk who are dependent on our municipal waters,” he said.

The newly created Sarangani Energy Corporation will pursue the coal power plant project. The project was issued an environmental compliance certificate by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2009.

Joseph Nocos, Conal Holdings Corp. Vice President, had earlier said the second phase of the coal power project would begin a year after the completion of the first phase.

The first phase is slated for completion in 36 months or late 2014, when Mindanao is projected to have a supply shortfall, he said.

Conal Holdings is 60% owned by the publicly listed ACR and the rest by the Electricity Generating Public Co. Ltd. or EGCO, Thailand’s largest power producer.

Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez, an Alcantara scion, has thrown his support to the coal power plant project, noting this could be a “magnet of investment” for other industries in the area.

Several months ago, company officials announced that a power supply agreement with the South Cotabato Electric Cooperative 2 (Socoteco-2) had been reached.

Under the power supply deal, Sarangani Energy will provide a dedicated supply of 70-MW to the Socotecto-2 which serves this city, the whole of Sarangani and parts of South Cotabato. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)