Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Coal-fired power plant eyed in Sarangani

MAASIM, Sarangani Province--The Conal Holdings Company (CHC), a joint venture between the Alcantara Group of Companies and Thai Power firm EGKO, has tapped the services of a leading energy consultancy firm in Finland for the construction of a coal-fired power plant here.
Gregorio Gonzales, manager of Kamanga Power Plant (KPP), said on Sunday the hiring of a consultancy firm was to ensure the safety and reliability of the project.

"We will employ best world practices to ensure that the project will be safe, clean and acceptable to environmentalists and residents of Sarangani," Gonzales said.

Aside from hiring the services of Finland's Enprima Limited for the technical and engineering design of the project, CHC has also engaged the services of Berkman Systems, Inc., a leading environmental management and monitoring service provider in the Philippines.

CHC is investing about US$450 million to build a modern 200-megawatt coal-powered plant in Kamanga village here.

Gonzales revealed that they were already wrapping up the feasibility studies and validating the technical surveys of the project site.

The KPP manager said construction of the project has been targeted to start in the middle of 2009.

Construction alone of the first phase will be done in three years.

During this period, he said, the company would need more than 1,000 skilled and semi-skilled workers.

During the operation stage, the power plant will be hiring about 300 regular workers.

CHC will launch technical skills training program to equip the locals with skills required by the project.

Umbra Macagcalat, respected community leader in the area, hailed the project, saying it would help generate employment and help alleviate poverty there.

Despite the support of residents in the area, the project is facing strong opposition from the Catholic church in the region.

Fr. Romeo Catedral, social action director of the Diocese of Marbel, said the local parish in Maasim would intensify its protest actions against the coal-fired power project.

The Church leaders a few months ago invited a resource speaker from Greenpeace to talk in a symposium about the ill effects of coal plant to the ecology.

Gonzales, however, assured residents the project would comply with all the environment standards set by law.

The plant manager explained that the company would use circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) process, which has been considered as the most efficient and cleanest among available coal-powered plant technologies in the industry today.

He claimed that unlike the conventional boilers, which could only process fossil fuel such as high-grade coal, oil and gas, CFBC technology could use low-grade coal, biomass, sludge, waste plastics and waste tires as fuel.

Gonzales said everybody, including environment activists and Church leaders, would be welcome to visit, inspect and monitor the power plant during its operation.

"We have nothing to hide. We even welcome suggestions on how to protect the environment. Those opposed to the project are invited to help in the monitoring," Gonzales said.

The 200 megawatts the power plant project is expected to generate is just an initial target capacity, according to Gonzales.The capacity would be upgraded to 900-MW over a period of 15 years to keep pace with the growth of the Mindanao economy.

It is expected to become operational by 2011 just in time for the expected onset of a power shortage.

Tomas Alcantara, chair of the Alcantara Group of Companies, said the establishment of a power plant in Sarangani would be in anticipation of the power shortage expected to hit Mindanao by 2012.(Aquiles Zonio, INQ.net)

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