PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — The Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) here on Wednesday appealed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to finally decide on the proposed 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant by DMCI Power Corporation.
The coal project, which local officials are pursuing to supposedly end Palawan’s constant power outages, has been left pending before the DENR since 2016 due to opposition from non-government organizations.
Jeffrey Tan-Endriga, chairman of the board of directors of the Paleco, said in a media conference that since 2015, the DENR has failed to decide if the power giant has committed violations or not.
“When it comes to the process of the coal plant, it’s no longer at the level of Paleco; it’s now with the DENR. If they are going to be given the permit, it’s up to the DENR. If they will not be given, that’s the time to revisit their contract because their major technology is coal plant. If they cannot construct their plant, then we will have to study their contract,” he said.
As of now, there is no confirmation that the DMCI has been given a permit by the DENR to construct and operate its coal plant in Narra town, southern Palawan, he said.
Endriga said that the DMCI remains hopeful that its project will be approved because the DENR has not issued any decision about violations.
“In our meeting with DENR, we appealed for it to make a decision if DMCI has violations or none so that we won’t be left hanging. If the DENR will not approve it, then it should come out with a final decision. But the DENR cannot decide until now and I don’t know the reason. This is what’s happening, and we have no control over it,” he said.
On the constant power outages, Endriga said the DMCI should not be entirely blamed for the poor performance of the generating sets (gensets) in its fossil fuel-fired plant since they are only meant for interim operations.
The DENR’s failure to come up with a decision is encumbering Paleco to make a decision regarding DMCI’s pitiable provision of the power supply as an independent power producer, he said.
“The small gensets are supposed to operate temporarily, but what’s happening now is they are already functioning long-term. The problem is not Paleco, it’s not DMCI but the government. I hope they already decide if the DMCI has violations or what. Once and for all, give the decision already,” Endriga added.
He added the issue should already be resolved following the issuance by the Department of Energy of Executive Order (EO) 30 creating the Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EIC) to streamline the regulatory procedures affecting energy projects.
The EO, he said, states the “simplified approval process, and harmonize the relevant rules and regulations of all government agencies involved in obtaining permits and regulatory approvals, to expedite the development and implementation of Energy Projects of National Significance (EPNS) and others.”
“Within 30 days there should be a decision under this EO. This will become a challenge to the DENR if they will not decide. In general, if we talk about it, 40 percent of our supply in the country comes from the coal plant. This is the challenge to the DENR, what is going to be its basis in disapproving the DMCI project in Palawan?” he said.
He related that as far as DMCI is concerned, its coal project had been approved by the barangay council in Narra, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan and the provincial government, and had been issued a Strategic Environment Plan clearance by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development. Celeste Anna Formoso/PNA-northboundasia.com