Govt to allow new coal plants

By Alena Mae S. Flores –  March 30, 2016 at 11:30 pm 

from Manila Standard Today

Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada said the Philippines cannot unilaterally and immediately stop the development of new coal plants, as proposed by former US vice president Al Gore.

“We still need power…nIf there will be no coal plants, will the typhoons stop coming, will there be no more flash floods? We need power to fuel the economy,” Monsada said.

Gore was in the country early this month to campaign for the Climate Change Reality Project and urged the Philippines to follow the way of the US in putting an end to the development of new coal plants.

Electric generation capacity from coal plants in the US stood at 0.01 percent and oil at 0.07 percent as of 2015, he said.

Monsada said Gore’s statement was “offending,” given that the Philippines had already committed to a 70-percent emission reduction by 2030.

“Coal plants are not forever. For now, we need sufficient and reliable power, we need coal,” she said.

“But we are preparing for the that. Definitely, we cannot stop coal plants now, but we are imposing stricter standards,” she said.

Monsada said the coal plants being built in the country had passed stringent requirements before being issued environmental compliance certificates.

“If the plant operates with ECC, we cannot say stop. For the next ones, that’s what we will look at…We  have to set the standards…Coal plants that do not meet the standards, we can close them down,” she said.

Monsada said old and existing coal plants also needed to comply with the requirements of the Clean Air Act. “Notwithstanding, we are working for cleaner air. We are working towards achieving our target by 2030,” she said.

Monsada said investments in the power generation industry were private sector-driven and electricity prices were reflective of the costs to build the power plants.

“But in other countries, there is cost of externalities. We will look at that with the ERC [Energy Regulatory Commission] for the additional energy projects,” she said.

Monsada said coal standards included those on emissions, fuel quality and coal handling.

Data from the department showed that as of June 2015, there were 5,800 megawatts of installed capacity of coal-fired power plants across the country’s three power grids.  The bulk or 4,775.6 MW was in the Luzon grid.

The existing coal plants in Luzon are Pagbilao (764 MW), Calaca (600 MW), Masinloc (630 MW), Sual (1,294 MW), Quezon Power (511 MW), Apec (50 MW), Mariveles (651.6 MW), Petron (140 MW) and South Luzon Thermal Energy Corp. (135 MW).

Existing coal plants in the Visayas include Toledo Power Corp. (88.8 MW), Cebu Thermal Power Plant (106.8 MW), CEDC (246 MW), PEDC (164 MW) and Kepco (200 MW) while the only existing coal plant in Mindanao is the 232-MW Mindanao coal plant.

Data also showed that some 5,000 MW of additional capacity coming from 49 coal-fired plants were expected to come online by 2019. These would include the 300-MW Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corp. and the remaining 135 MW of South Luzon Thermal.