Antique bans construction of new coal-fired power plants
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — The Antique Provincial Board has banned the putting up of new coal-fired power plants in the province.
In an ordinance passed on Feb. 21, the board provided for the setting up a monitoring team to ensure that no endorsement would be given to plans to put up new coal-fired power plants in the province.
The ordinance, authored by Board Member Karmila Rose Dimamay, also provides for the imposition of administrative sanctions on government officials and employees who would “seek, assist or work for and endorsement” of new coal-fired power plants in the province.
“As an agricultural province with most of the population being farmers and fisherfolk, Antique can ill afford to bear the destructive effects of coal power on agriculture and fisheries, such as thermal pollution, coal ash resuspension and spillage to water bodies,” according to a resolution enacting the ordinance.
Antique, known for its pristine beaches and lush forests, hosts one of the biggest coal mines in Asia on Semirara Island in Caluya town operated by the Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC).
SMPC, the largest coal producer in the country accounting for about 92% of locally produced coal, operates a coal-fired power plant in Semirara that is used for its operations.
In August 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) and SMPC signed a memorandum of understanding for the development of a 50-megawatt mine-mouth power plant in Antique to provide electricity to the province and neighboring islands.
On Panay Island, coal-fired powers plants are operating in Iloilo City by the Panay Energy Development Corp. and in Concepcion town in Iloilo by the Palm Concepcion Power Corp.
Proponents of coal-fired power plants have allayed concerns over the environmental and health hazards of the plants claiming that “clean-coal” technology including the Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion technology significantly reduces harmful emissions to within safe standards.
But environmental advocates have insisted that there is no “clean coal” and have called for the shift to renewable energy sources.
In 2018, more than half, or 52.1%, of power generated in the country was from coal-fired power plants. Less than a fourth, or 23.4%, was from renewal sources of energy (geothermal, hydro, biomass, solar, and wind) while natural gas accounted for 21.4%, according to data from the Department of Energy (DOE).
“While the Philippines is not one of the major contributors of carbon emissions, we nevertheless have a duty to reduce the impact of our consumption and have an energy mix that is not dependent on coal,” according to the Provincial Board resolution.
The ordinance is the second of its kind in Western Visayas following the passing of a similar one by the Negros Occidental Provincial Board in March last year.
Deputy House Speaker Loren Legarda, who represents Antique in the lower chamber, welcomed the passing of the ordinance saying this would help protect the environment and safeguard the health of Antique?os.
“With the increasing need to address the climate crisis, we have to wean our economies from over-dependence on coal and other fossil fuels,” Legarda said in a statement. “Proliferation of new coal-fired power plants will only contribute to our own destruction and will only go against our commitment to reduce emissions to ensure livable communities today and for the future.”
“Coal-fired power plants are our nation’s top source of greenhouse gas emissions and the primary cause of global warming,” she added. “Our goal to reduce carbon emissions will be impossible if we will continue to allow the construction and operation of additional coal-fired power plants. Thus, this crucial action of our local government is a vital step towards climate resilience.”