Under a system of governance founded on deception and chicanery, it is always good to be inquisitive. The questioning mind generates the energy and enthusiasm for study and research.  And when one starts to gather information and facts, his eagerness to learn more grows, because education is an ever-widening lake of  boundless queries that need to be explored.  One step at a time he wades from shallow water to deeper parts getting immersed part by part in the water of  knowledge, peering ceaselessly into the bottom of things, unfolding their nature aspect  after aspect in endless questioning.

The Coal Plant issue does not end with the President Noynoy Aquino’s “sili”-flavored questions:  What if there is no wind? What if the clouds are overcast? And the solar efficiency is down? What if we do not have enough bio mass? As a matter of fact they serve as stimuli for the inquisitive mind to continue doffing beneath the surface of such sili-flavored rhetorics.

Neither does the Coal Plant issue stop at the reassurance of  the Aboitiz Power CEO Erramon Aboitiz that they are not going to do anything bad for Davao City.  His word could be as “good” as the profits he will reap from the Plant’s operation through all these days ahead. With more verb  and zeal does the inquisitive citizen — the ultimate stakeholder– harness his energy and mettle to ask more and more questions.

In the following study and research about Coal -Fired Power Plant  are questions and answers that constitute “a must; read” of every Dabawenyo  or every Filipino  for that  matter, the better for him/her tol confront the issue intelligently and frontally.

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12 Frequently Asked Questions on Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion Coal-Fired Power Plant of Aboitiz Power Corporation in Davao City

Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao and Network Opposed to Coal (No to Coal) -Davao

   1.  Is there a looming energy crisis in the Philippines?

We doubt the veracity of the claims of the Department of Energy (DOE) and Aboitiz Power Corporation that there is a looming energy crisis in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao. The so-called ‘energy crisis’ is not the crisis of lack of generation but a crisis of the lack of transmission and distribution. Based on the DOE data, the Philippines has a 15,763 mega watts (MW) installed capacity and only 9,069 MW peak demand. There is still huge energy surplus that we could actually consume. The Philippines is second in the world in terms of installed geothermal capacity, which should mean that we have cheaper electricity rates. But we rank among the highest in Asia in terms of electricity rate.

In a study conducted by the economist Maitet Diokno-Pascual for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), she found out that the projected demand based on high Gross Domestic Product (GDP) projection is far off from the actual demand. The flawed forecasting model of the DOE was the main culprit of the Purchased Power Adjustment (PPA) favoring the onerous contracts with Independent Power Producers (IPP) that angered most Filipinos. PPA made us pay for the electricity generated we are not using. It was also the reason behind the bankruptcy of the National Power Corporation (NPC) which eventually led to the fiscal crisis.

  1. Is there a looming power crisis in Davao?

NO. Since the forecast made by the DOE is based on a high GDP formula, therefore, the projected peak demand does not reflect the actual growth of power consumption in Davao. The claim of so-called ‘looming energy crisis’ is based on the projection of a big business group that the increasing explorations and operations of big foreign and local mining corporations in Mindanao needs at least 1,000 MW. These mining corporations will be using open-pit method which is very destructive to the environment. The energy to be generated by the proposed coal-fired power plant will be connected to the Mindanao grid to supply the energy demands of big mining corporations. Secondly, there has been no ENERGY AUDIT conducted in Davao and in Mindanao to validate the claims of so-called energy crisis.

  1. Is there an instance in the Philippines that a so-called ‘clean coal technology’ such as Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion (CFBC) rejected by a local government unit and by the people?

YES, there is. Coal is a fossil-based fuel that can never be a source of clean energy. ‘Clean coal’ is an oxymoron. It is a dirty and deadly lie. It is just a public relations (PR) and marketing strategy of coal power corporations such as Aboitiz Power Corporation, which is telling us that they will be using CFBC which, according to them, is affordable and safe.

But in March 3, 2004, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the mass movement of the people of Iloilo rejected the $ 150 million CFBC project of Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO) due to health and environmental reasons, which opted them to transfer to Cebu because the Provincial Government is accommodating them.

  1. Will a 52.7 hectares of 300 MW Coal-Fired Power Plant proposed in Brgy. Binugao, Toril, Davao City and Brgy. Inawayan, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur have tremendous effects on the health of the Dabawenyos?

YES. CFBC uses much lower temperature and less oxygen, resulting in carbon monoxide formation and incomplete breakdown of organic compounds leading to the release of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), of which the most potent cancer-causing agents are benzo anthracene and benzo pyrene (JL Jacobson, et. Al Journal of Pediatrics 116:38-44. 1990).

Coal-Fired Power Plants are proven to emit heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium. The ash samples taken from the ash ponds of Salcon and Toledo coal power plants analyzed by the Philippine Institute of Pure and Applied Chemistry (PIPAC) based in Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) revealed the presence of these neurotoxic chemicals.

PIPAC Report of Analysis 11 May 2005

Analytes, ug/g

Toledo-  Mirant Coal Plant

Salcon Coal Plant













Scientific facts tell us that cadmium causes cancer; lead causes mental retardation, gastrointestinal and kidney disorders; arsenic causes liver, lung and skin cancers; and mercury causes permanent damages to the brain and kidneys, congenital disorders, and ailments in the skin, lungs, heart and eyes.

  1. Will the same KEPCO technology proposed in Davao City affect our potable water source?

YES. Based on the second level scoping report on the rejected KEPCO proposal in Banate, Iloilo, a 100 MW coal-fired power plant will require 5,000 drums of freshwater per day. It will also require 300 cubic meters or 30 dump trucks of limestone per day which means 109,500 cubic meters of land taken per year. With reference to this report, a 300 MW proposed coal-fired power plant of Aboitiz Power Corporation would require 15,000 drums of freshwater per day or 5,475,000 drums per year and 900 cubic meters of limestone per day or 328,500 cubic meters of limestone per year.

It will definitely compete with the local community’s potable water consumption. It will surely have a tremendous impact on our potable water supply, on Talomo-Lipadas watershed (Dumoy water bed), the main source of Davao City Water District (DCWD).

  1. What is the estimate volume of solid waste generated per year by a coal-fired power plant?

According to the calculation of Engr. Aurora Alerta-Lim based on the chemical stoichiometry (analytical chemistry) of Skoog, J in 2000, a 100 MW coal-fired power plant is estimated to generate 176,943 cubic meters of solid wastes per year. In reference to the data with the proposed 300 MW coal-fired power plant in Davao City, about 530,829 cubic meters of solid waste will be generated annually.

  1. Will the Aboitiz coal project have an effect on the marine and coastal environment?

Based on the KEPCO’s second level scoping report, a 100 MW coal plant needs 3,350,000 drums of seawater per day for cooling the boiler. For a 300 MW, it would mean 10,050,000 drums of seawater per day. It will dump to the sea of Davao Gulf a warmer, saltier and chlorinated waste water which will result in irreparable damage to our coastal and marine resources. It could affect the livelihood of small fisherfolks.

  1. Will the so-called ‘clean coal technology’ be able to address the noise and vibration pollution?

NO.  One of the major concerns of the host community is that the noise of the existing facility is already taking its toll on them.  Especially when the thermal plant is starting up, the residents will not be able to sleep and hear each other.  Before even contemplating on building a facility in Davao City, the residents, especially the children should be assessed as to the extent of the neuro-behavioural effects of constant exposure to extreme noise.

  1. Does the proposed coal-fired power plant emit carbon dioxide and methane aggravating global warming and climate change?

YES. Coal-Fired Power Plants are the main contributors to greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. They account for 80% of carbon dioxide burned and released to the atmosphere.

A typical 300 MW coal-fired utility burns 150 tons of coal per hour and it emits 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.

It means coal-fired power plants mainly contribute to global warming and climate change. The negative impacts of climate change in agriculture, forestry, wetlands, rivers, watersheds, biodiversity, and communities are tremendous. The poor and marginalized sectors are the most vulnerable to the aforesaid negative impacts.

  1. Is coal-fired power plant cheap? Will it bring down the rates of our electricity bill?

NO. Coal-fired power plant is not cheap since Aboitiz Power Corporation will not include the external costs such as the costs due to the impacts on health, livelihood, and environment and natural resources. It will not bring down the rates of electricity bill because under the Electric Power Reform Industry Act (EPIRA), which privatized the energy sector, the government is powerless to regulate the electricity rates. It cannot dictate upon a private power producer to decrease electricity rates.

There is no way DLPC will lower electricity rates since the motive of Aboitiz is to gain mega-profits and not the well-being benefit of the people. Aboitiz Power and its sister companies and subsidiaries, are notorious in implementing power rate increases that are unjust (the company is not losing but gaining profits) and without genuine consultation among the people. Last August 2010, DLPC implemented a P0.33 power rate hike despite the fact that it has no basis and did not undergo genuine consultation.

Aboitiz-DLPC has yet to refund the 70,000 consumers of Davao City amounting to P348.425 million based on the ruling of the Supreme Court on November 2006 because it overpriced its rates. Until now, no refund has been given to the affected consumers.

  1. What is the real purpose of coal-fired power plant?

Foreign and local corporations are presenting doomed scenarios about energy crisis. They are dramatizing this so that our policy-makers and decision-makers and the general public as well would buy the idea of having coal as the solution to power crisis.

In fact, the proposed coal-fired power plant in Malalag town, Davao del Sur will provide power to the operations of large-scale foreign mining of SMI-Xtrata in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur and Tampakan, South Cotabato which would be needing an additional 500 megawatt power supply.

Davao City’s energy generation is for the increasing foreign mining and plantations operations in Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley Province and Davao Oriental. Under Philippine Energy Contracting Round, the government continues to offer our national coal reserves to big local and foreign companies for explorations and production and is targeting to increase the local production of coal by 250% by 2015 in order to meet the demands of increasing numbers of coal-fired power plants to be installed in Isabela, Zambales, Negros Oriental and Occidental, Sarangani, General Santos City, Davao City, Davao del Sur, and Zamboanga City.

In Southern Mindanao alone, target areas for coal mining are Manay and Tarragona, Davao Oriental that have a total area of 17,000 hectares.  Most of the coal mining areas are within the ancestral domains of the indigenous peoples. It will displace the indigenous peoples and in effect will violate their rights to land.

This kind of plunder is always challenged with resistance of the locals. Such community resistance is usually quelled with militarization which contributes further to human rights violations.

  1. What are the real solutions to energy problem, if there is?

Coal is not the solution. In truth, it will create and cost more problems to people’s health and the environment and worsen climate crisis. Hence, our call is to come up with 40- year moratorium on coal.

The correct solution lies in a pro-people, balanced and comprehensive policy and program on energy that emphasizes the protection and efficient and sustainable utilization of our energy resources as part of our national patrimony.

It means the nationalization and people’s control of energy resources and utilities that put emphasis on the research, development and utilization of alternative renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass, wave, and micro-hydropower for the benefit of the people.

What can we do?

  1. Conduct education discussions, community-based forums, teach-ins to extensively disseminate the impacts of coal mining and coal-fired power plants so that the public would know how it affects us, our livelihood, our health, and our environment;

  2. Build the grassroots movement and alliances by organizing the members of the community to campaign against the coal-fired power plant;

  3. Build coalitions through networking and linkaging various organizations, communities, barangay officials, local policy/decision-makers, and other local leaders. Nationally, the NETWORK OPPOSED TO COAL leads this campaign; and

  4. Mobilize the people to pressure the proponents of coal-fired power plant to drop their plans and decision-makers to reject the proposed coal-fired power plant and assert for the nationalization and people’s control of energy resources and utilities.


Sources of data and information:

1. Philippine Electricity Projections by Maria Teresa Diokno-Pascual and World Wildlife Fund

2. Philippine Energy Plan 2004-2013, Department of Energy

3. Resolution of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo rejecting $150 million coal-fired power plant proposal of KEPCO

4. Report of Analysis of Ash Samples from Toledo-Mirant and Salcon Power Plant, Philippine Institute of Pure and Applied Chemistry

5. Primer on Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion Project, Aboitiz Power Corporation

6. KEPCO’s Second Level of Scoping Report on the proposed Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion 100 MW coal-fired power plant in Banate, Iloilo

7. Chemical Stoichiometry Study of Engr. Aurora Alerta-Lim based on coal-fired power plant– based on Analytical Chemistry by Skoog, J. 2000

8. Cebu Alliance for Renewable Energy (CARE)

9. Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (KPNE)

10. AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People

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