Biz group defers support for coal-fired power plant expansion

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 Dec.) — The Mindanao Business Council (MBC) will defer its support for Therma South’s plan of expanding its coal-fired power plant project from 300 megawatts (MW) to 645 MW pending the completion of a thermal pollution assessment, an official said.

MBC president Vicente Lao told reporters Monday it was still uncertain if the expansion would not adversely affect the environment, especially the Davao Gulf.

Therma South, an Aboitiz subsidiary, is currently applying for the expansion at the Davao City Council, which had set a committee hearing this week.

Last week, Vice Mayor Paolo Z. Duterte said the city council would probably approve the application if it could meet environmental standards. He specifically cited measures that would mitigate carbon emission.

“What the councilors will decide on is up to them, but for me, if Davao city will continue to experience fast-paced growth and power is needed, then why not? It (coal-fired power plant) is already existing,” he said.

Therma South plans to add 345 MW to the current 300-MW power plant, bringing its total capacity to 645 MW.

In a presentation to the city government, Aboitiz vice president for Mindanao affairs Manuel M. Orig said the Davao Light franchise area would face shortfalls of as much as 59 MW in the next five years if no expansion was undertaken.

He added that the power requirements of companies that are planning to invest in the city starting 2014 may reach at least 30 MW.

He named these companies as Steel Asia, Santerbro, and Holcim.

“The rest of increase in demand will be due to the increased requirements of existing businesses,” he said.

According to a report from the Department of Energy, Mindanao needs 1,728 MW to 2,206 MW within six years, but is currently operating on 1,616 megawatts.

Benjamin Cariaso, president and chief operating officer of Therma South said they have an ongoing program to plant a million trees in Marilog area, and a plan to plant mangroves throughout the Davao Region. (MindaNews)