By RUEL PELONE
and DODO CANOY
CAGAYAN de Oro City—The 30-billion-peso coal-fired power plant project of the Filinvest Development Corporation (FDC) in Misamis Oriental has found a new ally.
This after Cagayan de Oro City Councilor Bong Lao publicly announced his support for the construction of another coal plant in Villanueva town.
Lao, who is earlier opposed to the power project, said he will support the project as long as the FDC will assure him that it will comply with all the environmental laws.
With Lao’s recent statement of support, Rep. Juliette Uy of Misamis Oriental’s second district, and her husband, Villanueva town Mayor Julio Uy have high hopes that the project will push through despite oppositions from some sectors.
The FDC through its subsidiary THE FDC Utilities, Inc. (FDCUI), the firm behind the FDC Misamis Power Corporation (FDC-Misamis), is planning to construct three units of fluidized coal-fired power plant with the capacity of 135 megawatts each inside the Phividec Industrial Estate.
FDC-Misamis will operate the coal-fired power plant and initially plans to operate two units at 270-MW in 2016 and the other unit in 2018.
With the additional load, Mayor Uy said brownouts will become “things of the past.”
On one hand, Rep. Uy said the power project will not only provide the needed power, but will also help lure more investors for Mindanao.
Lao earlier lambasted some officials saying they are just playing blind by allowing the destruction of environment in exchange for the so-called development.
His (Lao’s) stand against the coal plant has wavered when he himself admitted that maintaining a hydro power plant, a renewable energy, is not only expensive but needs more time.
He cited the ages 3 in Iligan City, where until now the government is still undecided on what to do with the hydro power plant.
While he said he is still opposed to the construction of coal plant, Lao admitted that the only alternative to arrest the shortfall of power in Mindanao is to construct another coal-fired power plant.
He even told those people opposed to the coal plant to focus on the preventive measures and the technology being used in running the plant.
Mayor Uy said that he is for renewable energy. In fact, he said that Mindanao has been already highly reliant on renewable energy sources called hydropower.
He said that hydropower comprises 50 percent of the total power generated on the island.
In 2013, the Department of Energy (DOE), citing actual operations reports from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), said the hydro power plants in Agus and Pulangui are only at 65 percent available capacity.
Renewable energy is site-specific and must be implemented where feasible, said Mayor Uy adding, “this is true for wind, geothermal, and hydro power plants.
On one hand, he said that solar power plants are faced with the limitations in terms of size and land area.
He said that even if the entire Villanueva town will be used as home to solar power plant, it still cannot produce a huge supply of electricity as that of the coal plant.
Mayor Uy cited the report published in BusinessWeek Mindanao carrying the headline: “Biggest in Asia outside China: Marawi Solar PV Park gets going.”
The story talks about the signing of Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with the Islamic City of Marawi and a US-based integrator for the construction of 35 megawatts Solar Photovoltaic Power Park worth P4.7 billion.
With its commercial operations by 2015, the people of Marawi City will be paying the lowest electricity rates in the entire country.
Social and economic boon
First district and neophyte Rep. Juliette Uy of Misamis Oriental considered the construction of the three-phase 405-megawatts (MW) coal power plant by the FDC Misamis Power Corporation (FDC-Misamis) in the town of Villanueva as Northern Mindanao’s “economic and social boon.”
Rep. Uy pointed out the P30-billion investment of the FDC-Misamis, a subsidiary of FDC Utilities, Inc., the utilities and infrastructure arm of the Filinvest Development Corporation (FDC) of the Gotianun group, will not only help arrest the shortage of power that is hounding Mindanao for a period of time but would also help generate jobs––and local and national revenues.
The neophyte lawmaker has earlier expressed her full and strong support to the construction of “clean coal” power plant by FDC-Misamis in her hometown–––the municipality of Villanueva.
The project, she said, is a major investment that secured the endorsement of local officials and national government because it can help address the power shortfall that Mindanao currently experiencing.
Rep. Uy is optimistic that more investors will come and invest in the province of Misamis Oriental once the FDC-Misamis will start its commercial operations of its coal-fired power plant in 2016.
She did not hesitate to give her full support for the construction of coal plant as the FDC-Misamis assured her that it will use the latest clean coal technology called the “circulating fluidized bed (CFB).”
“The circulating fluidized bed (CFD) is a clean process with the ability to achieve lower emission of pollutants. By using this technology, up to 95 percent of pollutants will be absorbed before being emitted to the atmosphere. At the same time, the advantages of this technology outweigh the limitations, which made it favorable…” according to the online free encyclopedia, wikipedia.org.
In constructing the plant, the FDCUI said it will use the latest and modern technology called the “circulating fluidized bed (CFB) boiler” and other environmentally-friendly systems such as the electrostatic precipitator (ESP).
CFB is a process that ensures less emissions, re-usable waste or by-products––where bottom and fly ash are usable inputs to cement production or as coarse materials for road construction––and overall lower hazard to human health, safety and environment.
Unlike the older or “typical” coal-fired power plants that generate black ashes, those plants that employed CFB generate whiter bottom and fly ashes.
The CFB boiler is able to break down fuel (coal) better due to the circulating motion which is unique to the CFB itself, according to the document obtained by Mindanao Daily News.
Older thermal plants use pulverized coal systems (pre-crushed coal boiled much like a kettle boiling water), the document reads.
To complement the CFB boiler technology, FDCUI also adopts other mechanisms that contribute to having a comprehensive clean coal approach.
ESP, or electrostatic air cleaner is a particulate collection device that removes particles from a flowing gas (such as air) using the force of an induced electrostatic charge, according to wikipedia.org, an online encyclopedia.
Electrostatic precipitators are highly efficient filtration devices that minimally impede the flow of gases through the device, and can easily remove fine particulate matter such as dust and smoke from the air stream.
FDCUI also adopts covered systems for coal handling to ensure minimal fugitive dust within the premises of the power plant.
Likewise, part of the FDCUI clean coal approach is transparent, multi-sectoral and consultative approach to plant operations and community building by organizing the multipartite monitoring team (MMT).
The MMT will be composed of representatives from the local government unit, community, civil society organization, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and other key stakeholders whose primary role is to conduct periodic monitoring of the power plants to ensure strict compliance to government guidelines and transparency.
“We share the view of environmentalists that there is a need to protect people and the environment,” said the FDCUI in a statement, adding “this is why FDC-Misamis has proactively chosen the CFB technology for its 405-MW power plant project and has taken measures to ensure its investment is not only economically viable but environmentally sound.”