By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Negros Occidental Provincial Board Member Romel Debulgado yesterday announced, despite opposition from environmentalist groups and outgoing Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr.’s executive order declaring the province “coal-free,” the proposed San Carlos City coal-fired power plant will push through.
Debulgado, who chairs the Provincial Board Committee on Environment, said, while the company in charge of the power plant is still processing documentation, he believes the project will proceed. The provincial official pointed out, after visits to existing coal plants in Iloilo City, no environmental problems were detected in the surrounding areas.
He added, coal plants benefit the local economy.
According to officials from the Department of Energy (DOE), Negros Occidental is the only major area of the entire Visayas region that will have no reliable inland power source within the next five years.
DOE-Visayas energy management division chief, Engr. Rey Maleza, explained both Cebu and Iloilo are expected to open coal-fired power plants within the year, with two located in Cebu and one in Iloilo.
“This additional 480 Megawatts, to be generated from the three power plants, will suffice for the Visayas requirements [over] the next five years,” he explained.
Earlier this year, then-Negros Occidental gubernatorial candidate, incumbent Negros Occidental Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, said a majority of San Carlos City residents are supportive of the proposed power plant.
“If they want it then I would support it,” he said./DGB, WDJ