By Carmencita A. Carillo
DAVAO City — The construction of the P25-billion, 300-MegaWatt (MW) coal-fired power plant owned by Aboitiz Power Corporation located at the boundary of Davao City and Davao del Sur is in full swing and is expected to start operating by 2015.
“The plant will be able to meet a substantial part of the power requirements of Mindanao which is expected to have a shortfall of 484 MW by 2014,” Aboitiz Power Mindanao Affairs First Vice President Manuel Orig said. Aboitiz had the chance to convince students and environmentalists to see the benefits of the coal-fired power plant during a forum held at the Finster Auditorium of the Ateneo de Davao University last Friday, November 9.
Orig assured the people that the coal-fired power plant makes use of modern technology and is capable of meeting environmental standards. He said the plant is in full swing and while there are minor problems, these are manageable and won’t delay the opening of the plant.
The biggest economic problem facing Mindanao today, he said, is the lack of power to fuel economic growth. The projected power shortfall by 2014, he added, is equivalent to the power usage of various cities including General Santos, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga and Butuan.
“The only viable option available is the putting up of a generating facility that can provide adequate and reliable power supply at competitive rates and with the least adverse effect to the environment,” he said.
He said Aboitiz has considered renewable fuels but “it would be extremely difficult to find and attain the scale of renewable fuels capable of meeting the shortfall.” It is important to reduce Mindanao’s dependence on hydro power, he said, although the cost of other sources like biomass, solar and wind are higher than hydro.
Aboitiz is counting on the high environmental standards practiced by the Steag coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental ever since it started operating in 2006. He said Steag’s actual emissions are lower than the Philippine Clean Air Act, DENR and even World Bank standards.
“This coal-fired power plant is the best available and most practical solution to Mindanao’s biggest problem,” he said. Aside from being capable of producing adequate and reliable power, he said, the plant can also produce power at competitive rates. He said Davao City is also proximate to Kalimantan, Indonesia where the coal will be sourced.