Power generators find ally in Duterte

Two proponents for separate coal fired power plant projects in Southern Mindanao have found an ally in former Davao city mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte said in his television program over weekend that he is strongly pushing for the 200-megawatt coal-fired power plant project of the Aboitizes in Davao City after he was given assurances that the plant will be safe from pollution.

“I am for it,” Duterte, who is now vice mayor of Davao, said.

Mindanao has been experiencing recurring outages due to erratic power supply.

Among the hardest hit are the cities of Davao, General Santos and the rest of the southern portion of the island which consumes more than 60 per cent of the total available capacity in Mindanao.

Duterte said the Aboitiz project will help ease supply problem in the city.

“We have already experienced rotational brownout. We have tapped hydro power plants to generate electricity, but the supply is still not enough,” the mayor said.

Another power firm, the Conal Holdings Corporation, is proposing a similar project in the town of Maasim in Sarangani.

Conal Holdings is set to begin construction of its 200-megawatt coal-fired power plant station sometime next year.

In addition, Conal Holdings is also planning to put up a 100-megawatt power plant station in Zamboanga City.  The Zamboanga project is also coal-fired power station.

Mindanao has one existing coal-fired power plant in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.  Steag, a German-financed and managed power plant, is generating 110 megawatts which it is selling to the Mindanao power grid run by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

Fifty three percent of Mindanao’s power supply however comes from its hydro electric power plants and are largely concentrated in Northern Mindanao.

Industry sources said that Mindanao will likely incur a deficit of at least 450 megawatts by 2014 if no new generating capacities are built within the period.

It will take at least three years to build a 100-megawatt plant regardless of its energy source.

Environmentalists and some Church activists are opposing the construction of coal-fired power plants in Mindanao citing environmental damage as well as health risks.

Both Conal and the Aboitiz Group have nevertheless been assuring critics that the technology they will use are now environment friendly.