President Duterte assures gov’t support to power generation projects

MAASIM, Sarangani -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte reiterated on Thursday the government's full support to ongoing and upcoming power generation projects, especially in Mindanao, citing they are vital to the country's development.

The President gave the assurance as he personally led the ceremonial switch-on of Sarangani Energy Corporation's (SEC) initial 105-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant and the groundbreaking of its second 105-MW section in Barangay Kamanga here.

He lauded the commitment of the SEC, which is operated by the Alsons Power Group, to complete its US$ 570-million power plant project here and eventually help stabilize the power situation in Mindanao.

"Mindanao has had that shortfall for so many years -- for energy. We cannot develop until we have the power," he said.

The President noted that Mindanao suffered economically several times in the last decade due to severe power shortage.

He was referring to the power crisis that gripped the island three years ago that resulted in prolonged daily rotational brownouts.

In this city, a number of businesses suffered as the daily power outages stretched to at least seven hours.

President Duterte acknowledged various concerns regarding risks to human health and the environment of the operations of coal-fired power plants but said there are no alternatives to them in terms of cost.

He said the government had considered renewable energy projects but cited that they are too expensive to develop.

The President said the government has to "strike a balance" between the opposition to coal-fired power plants and the country's energy needs.

"We would like to have a clean planet but its impossible to really insist on it because civilization needs to have light. So you strike a happy balance," he said.

He added that as long as coal remains the most viable and cheapest way to generate power, there's no other alternative except to upgrade the technology to its fullest to address concerns on pollution and other related problems.

SEC's first 105-MW component began commercial operations in April last year and currently supplies power to an estimated three million residents in Region 12 and other parts of Mindanao.

The power plant is considered as the single largest power investment in Sarangani Province and the entire Region 12.(PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency