By Ruth T. Rodriguez
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, (PNA) -– Former 1st District congressman Antonio Alvarez of Palawan does not mind if it’s a diesel- or coal-fired power plant as long as there is “reliable energy supply” which is badly needed to cater to the demands of investors, and to invite more of them to engage in mutually beneficial business ventures in the province.
In an interview, Antonio Alvarez, former Congressman 1st Palawan’s 1st District, said now the public office being held by his son Rep. Chicoy Alvarez, and the youngest brother of Governor Jose Alvarez, the province will not fully achieve development and will not be able to get into other industries if unreliable power supply is disappointing and turning away investors.
His comment was made in light of controversies and strong opposition by non-government organizations (NGOs) against the DMCI Power Corporation’s (DPC) proposed 15-megawatt circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) coal-fired power plant eyeing Sitio Marikit, Barangay San Juan in the town of Aborlan in southern Palawan as relocation site.
The DPC earlier wanted to construct its coal-fired power plant in Barangay Panacan, Narra, also in southern Palawan. But due to staunch opposition by various NGOs and residents in the said barangay, its endorsement was turned down by the Municipal Council of Narra.
Alvarez said there is an existing coal-fired power plant in Barangay Rio Tuba, Bataraza, also in the southern part of the province, and it has no ill-effects on the people and the environment in the area.
The coal-fired power plant is being operated by the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (RTNMC/CBNC) for its mining operation.
“May coal-fired power plant naman sa Bataraza pero wala namang problema (There is a coal-fired power plant in Bataraza but there is no problem),” Alvarez said.
Palawan is having difficulty inviting investors because the problem of stable power supply remains waiting and unresolved, according to the former House representative.
“Other industries are waiting. It will be very expensive for those who want to put in investments to Palawan, and yet they cannot see reliable power. It’s going to be very expensive for them to construct their business ventures if they will be the ones to also provide their own power supply,” he further stated.
He is suggesting that a separate set of guidelines be crafted and implemented to set standards for investments like coal-fired power plant to ensure they are safe and will not bring harm to the environment and the people.
This set of guidelines should be reviewed by the Palawan Provincial Board and the public to ensure strict compliance, and to avoid turning away investment opportunities that could help the province’s economic development.
“I am not really particular if that is diesel-fired or coal-fired. What is important is that there is reliable power. For what are regulations of the government if investors are following them, and complying, and yet we will not allow them? It is also not fair to the proponent,” he said.
Alvarez said that like what his governor brother is saying: “Everyone should know what is permitted and what is not.”
In our country, coal-fired power plant is permitted,” Alvarez said.