New Mindanao coal-fired power plant goes on stream Monday

New Mindanao coal-fired power plant goes on stream Monday

The controversial 210-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental would formally operate on Monday with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo scheduled to lead the inauguration rites, company officials said.

The $305-million power plant, built by German energy firm STEAG on a 55.42-hectare property inside the Phividec Industrial Estate in Villanueva town, is expected to provide 15 percent of Mindanao’s total power demand, estimated at more than 2,000 MW.

Arroyo will be accompanied by Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and German Ambassador Axel Weishaupt, the officials said.

“The project brings an optimistic outlook for the economy of 2007 as it answers the call of the President to use alternative fuel and responds to the government’s campaign for investments in electric power energy,” said Jerome Soldevilla, STEAG communication officer.

But militant groups maintain that the operation of the power plant, which will be fed by Indonesian coal, is unnecessary and would pose harm to the environment.

Ben Cyrus Ellorin, spokesman of the local environmental group Task Force Macajalar, said data from the Department of Energy (DOE) show there is enough electricity for Mindanao until 2012 even without the construction of a new plant. He said the DOE estimated that as of 2006, Mindanao’s combined power plants were producing an excess of more than 300 MW.

Ellorin said the operation of the power plant would harm the environment even if STEAG employed state-of-the-art anti-pollution devices.

He said STEAG has been boasting about its anti-pollution devices but was silent on the issue of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Trace chemicals like mercury, chromium, and lead cannot be completely removed by anti-pollution devices. Basically their Flue Gas Desulphurization and bag filters or electrostatic precipitators device are just good at preventing acid rain-causing gases like sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides, but their fly ash will still end up in the environment,” Ellorin said.

But Soldevilla said STEAG has adopted many measures to ensure the safety of the environment and the health of the people living near the plant.

He said the company has built ash by-product disposal facilities, a coal-handling plant, water treatment facilities, oil storage facility, a fire fighting station, transmission lines, and raw water river intake and pipeline to ensure that the plant’s operations would have low impact on the environment.

Soldevilla said the operation of the plant would also be closely monitored by the Environmental Management Bureau. STEAG, he said, also put up P30 million for environmental preservation projects and social development programs.

Copyright 2007 Inquirer. All rights reserved.

Share this post