16 JULY 2012
Mayor defends coal plants amid attacks
Mayor Patrick Escalante yesterday defended the planned construction of coal-fired power plants in Cadiz City, saying they are necessary for the economic survival of Negros Occidental.
The mayor was reacting to a Greenpeace statement yesterday opposing plans to construct two coal-fired power plants in Cadiz City, calling it a “clear violation of the 100 percent Renewable Energy (RE) policy established in Negros Island in 2002”.
The environmental group called on Escalante to immediately reverse his decision, “which directly contravenes one of Southeast Asia’s landmark sustainable energy policies”.
“This decision is technically illegal and sabotages Negros Island’s pioneering renewable energy policy which has been hailed worldwide as a model for energy sustainability,” Anna Abad, Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said.
“The people of Negros Island do not want coal plants – Negros was the first ever province in Southeast Asia to reject coal power, and to commit to 100 percent renewable power generation. Mayor Escalante has committed a grave disservice to Negrenses. Instead of promoting dirty coal power, he should keep Negros on track with its RE commitments, which he is duty-bound to do,” she added.
Escalante said he was not aware of a 100 percent RE policy in the province, and pointed out that even Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. is supporting the planned coal-fired power plants.
Escalante last week had said two firms are proposing to reclaim 50 hectares at the Cadiz port area for the construction of coal-fired power plants and the establishment of an economic zone.
Philippine Power Corp., a conglomeration of Filipino and Chinese investors, is planning to put up a 70-megawatt coal fired power plant, while Pacific Energy Corp., owned by Indonesian, Filipino and Chinese investors, is proposing a 100-megawatt plant, he said.
They are presently processing their permits from the Department of Energy and the Philippine Reclamation Authority so they can begin work, he said.
Escalante yesterday said the Cadiz Sanggunian has unanimously agreed to accept investors of coal-fired power plants in the city to bring progress to their area.
Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel; the acute and long-term environmental and social costs associated with coal usage make it an expensive and unacceptable burden to its host communities, Greenpeace said in its statement.
Negros Island has a vast potential for clean energy like wind, solar and modern biomass that is just waiting to be harnessed, it added.
“Negrenses must reject the black agenda of coal power proponents and must stand firm against politicos who renege on their commitments, especially if it stands in the way of progress and development. Negros must continue to be an RE beacon for the country, and the rest of Southeast Asia,” Abad said.
But Escalante said the coal plants being proposed in Cadiz City use new clean coal technology.
The United States and England where Greenpeace members come from use coal plants, he said. “Do they only want progress in those countries, while keeping us impoverished?” he asked.
Escalante said in five years time, if Negros Occidental does not have its own sources of power, its economy will be in jeopardy.
He said with its own power sources, the price of electricity for Negros Occidental consumers could also be brought down.
Spain that has gone heavily into renewable energy is now discovering that it is not economically profitable, and its economy has gone bankrupt, he added.
Investors will not come to Negros if it does not have its own stable power supply, Escalante said. “We are doing this to ensure that the Negros economy survives”, he added.*CPG
Read article source in The Visayan Daily Star