Conal’s downgrading vindicates anti-coal plant groups

Jul. 04, 2009

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The pronouncement of Conal Holdings Co. (CHC) that they will put up a 100-megawatt (MW) coal power plant in Maasim, Sarangani instead of the planned 200 MW, proves that the company exagerrated projections of a power shortage in the region, asserts groups opposed to the project.

“All along they made us believe that the power plant is necessary since power shortage is expected in the next two to three years. Now we are vindicated,” said Sr. Susan Bolanio, spokesperson of Socsksargen Can (Climate Action Now), a multisectoral coalition of various groups opposed to the planned coal power plant.

Gregorio S. Gonzalez, Jr., CHC project manager, said they will only raise to 200 MW the plant’s capacity “when the demand is already there.”

However, Erwin Quinones of Legal Rights and Natural resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK/FOE Phils) asserted that there is enough power supply for Mindanao in the next 5 to 10 years.

Quinones says that, in an annual business seminar sometime in March of this year, no less than former energy chief Francisco Viray, who is also the president and chief executive of Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. (TA Oil), was quoted as saying that Mindanao power capacity is more than enough to meet the demands of the island within the next five years.

“Minus large scale mining operations in the region, we believe that power supply is enough. We hope Conal is not referring to the power needs of Sagitarrius Mines Incorporated (SMI) as the demand. We are opposed to the Tampakan Project of SMI also” added Bolanio.

LRC-KsK/FoE Phils together with the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, OND HESED Foundation, Socsksargends Agenda, Freedom from Debt Coalition, among others, co-founded Socsksargen Can to campaign against the construction of the coal-fired power plant in Sitio Tampuan, Barangay Kamanga, Maasim. Sarangani Province and to raise the understanding of the people in the region about the threat of global warming and climate change.

“We will continue to oppose the construction of the coal plant even if it will be reduced into 100MW capacity. It will still endanger our health, our environment and our future” said Dr. Winifreda Olbes of the Santa Cruz Parish Against Pollution (SCPAP), a local anti-coal plant group.

The Alcantaras, who own many power generating and other power-related businesses, hold 60 percent of Conal Holdings; Electricity Generating Public Co. Ltd. (EGCO), Thailand’s largest power producer, owns the other 40 percent.

For reference:

Erwin B. Quinones

Campaigns Paralegal

Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Kasama sa Kalikasan – Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC/KsK-FoE Phils)

Davao City

082 221 3380

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