October 23, 2017, 3:57 pm
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PROVINCE MAY LOSE UNESCO RESERVE STATUS; DMCI unfazed by opposition to coal power plant in Palawan

DMCI Power Corp. is unfazed by opposition to its plan to build a 30 megawatt coal-fired power-plant in Palawan.
In telephone interview, DMCI Power chairman Isidro Consunji said the establishment of a powerplant in Aborlan, Palawan was part of the company’s intention to convert the diesel-fired power facilities in the small and remote islands into coal-fed power plants to lessen the cost of power to the so-called off-grid consumers.
“ Protest against the construction comes from NGO, but we are not worried, not at all,” he said. 
He also explained that the establishment of coal facilities is expected to reduce the subsidies given to the off-grid areas, whose electricity requirements are being provided by the Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) of the state-run National Power Corp. (Napocor). 
These subsidies are, meanwhile, being shouldered by grid-connected consumers through the Universal Charge for Missionary Electrification (UCME).
The coal plant was earlier planned to be built in Narra, but the local government there rejected the plan..Aborlan is 25 kilometers from Narra and 69 km south of Puerto Princesa City.
“The governor of Narra suggested to move the construction of the power plant.. So just in case, the people of Aborlan would also be against it, then we have no choice but to move elsewhere. Moving is not a problem, again, we are not worried, because we are confident that the construction at Aborlan will push through smoothly,” he said.
On the other hand, the price of electricity for the proposed coal power plant has also been questioned by local Palawan NGOs as the price will be much higher than indigenous, cleaner renewable energy projects. 
The proposed coal plant will sell electricity at a rate of Php 9.38/kwh. 
With VAT, that rate would rise to Php 10.51/kwh. A hydropower project being proposed in the province will produce electricity at a rate of Php 6.59/kwh – much lower than the fossil fuel power plant.
“Why should Palawan buy more expensive, dirty power when we have cleaner, cheaper alternatives available? It is also important to note that it is not just Palawan that will pay for this expensive electricity but the whole country as well due to the subsidy that NPC-SPUG (National Power Corporation – Small Power Utilities Group) areas receive from the national government. Palawan could be helping the country save money rather than wasting it.” Said Atty. Gerthie Mayo-Anda, Executive Director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) and convener of the Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE)
The current pending hydropower projects in the region could save the Philippines an estimated P750 million pesos a year from fossil fuel costs and mitigate about 26,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Renewable energy projects also generate a greater number of jobs per MW compared to fossil fuel plants.
Meanwhile, Palawan, touted as the Philippines’ final ecological frontier is said to lose its status as a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve if the proposed construction of a coal-fired power plant pushes through in the province.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared Palawan as a Man and Biosphere Reserve in 1990, classifying the province as a “site of excellence where new and optimal practices to manage nature and human activities are tested and demonstrated.”
The UN body is currently reassessing Palawan’s special status.
However, the plan to put up a coal plant is said to threaten the viability of the title.
“The question is not whether Palawan should develop. The question is how it should develop. Business as usual will no longer cut it. We need to mainstream next practices. Fifty year old formulas, such as fossil fuel dependence, will fall by the wayside,” says Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, Vice-chair and CEO of the World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines (WWF-Philippines).
“If we do not want to find ourselves latching on to old-school technology, we need to break away from centralized grid-dependence, and balance our energy mix. The key is to seize our power, and spread the risk,” he adds.
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