November 13, 2012 (8:26 AM)

4 min read


In the midst of the debate about the 300 Megawatt coal-fired power plant to be built in Davao City, Ateneo de Davao hosted a forum entitled “Is Coal so Cool?” last November 9 at the Finster Auditorium.

The forum aimed to give awareness and discussions on the effects of the coal-fired power plant, which is said to be dealing with the Mindanao energy crisis.

In his opening remarks, University President Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J. mentioned about Ateneo being an advocate in saving and preserving the environment. Yet he added that Ateneo still does not have a clear stand regarding the issue on cold-fired power plant.

How to address the problem

Mr. Manuel M. Orig, Vice President for Mindanao Affairs of Aboitiz Power, discussed the advantages of having a coal-fired power plant as a generating facility that can provide adequate and reliable power supply in Mindanao.

Orig discussed about the energy crisis that threatens the economic growth in Mindanao. He added that the power shortfall in Mindanao is expected to reach 484 Megawatt by 2014, which is equivalent to the power usage of the cities of Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Butuan and Zamboanga.

To effectively address Mindanao’s biggest problem, Orig presented and elaborated three essential conditions that must be satisfied.

First, generating facilities should be able to produce adequate and reliable power supply that would satisfy demand growth requirements. He stressed that the problem cannot be solved through the use of renewable fuels because these would be extremely difficult to find, develop and attain the scale capable of fulfilling Mindanao’s big supply needs, and meet requirements for growth.

Second, the cost of producing power from the generating facilities should be competitive. Orig said that Mindanao should have the right mix of renewable and non-renewable power sources. Relying on renewable power sources alone is expensive and would affect the competitiveness of Mindanao’s power rates.

Third, the use generating facilities should cause the least adverse effects to the environment. Orig presented statistics showing that the use of modern technology can keep coal power generation environmentally-safe.

Orig believed that building a 300 Megawatt Circulating Fluidized Bed Coal-Fired Power plant will be the best available and most practical solution to Mindanao’s biggest problem because of its capability of meeting these three essential conditions.

He ended his discussion by challenging the people who are opposed to the coal-fired power plant to present concrete solutions to solve the energy crisis in Mindanao.

Reaction and Commentary

After the presentation, Engr. Randell Espina, Dean of the School of Engineering and Architecture, presented his reaction and commentary about the issue.

Espina believed that coal-fired power plant is not a long-term solution for the energy crisis in Mindanao because coal is unsustainable and its price would increase in the near future. Espina also added that renewable resources should be given a chance and through the help of technology, these can produce efficient electricity source that would answer the problem on energy crisis.

He also said that people should also learn how to manage electricity well and try to reduce electricity consumption.
After the discussion, an open forum was conducted by Ms. Lilibeth Arcena, Director of Arrupe (formerly SICO).

“If it’s the only proposed solution, so coal is okay for me,” said Katherina Gumboc, 3rd year AB Political Science student, when asked about her stand on the issue. Gumboc also said that in her locale, North Cotabato, rotational brownouts frequently occur, which cause inconvenience to the people. “It would be unfair for the consumers who pay for electricity if they continue to experience rotating brownouts,” she added.

The forum was participated by different environmental groups, media, and the city council of Davao. The forum was organized by the University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council Center for Renewable Energy and Alternative Technology and the Aboitiz Power Company.

End the silence of the gagged!

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