DAVAO CITY — President Benigno Aquino III on Friday led the switching on of the 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant of the Therma South Inc. that is expected to lessen power fluctuations in Mindanao.
“We can count on it to consistently produce 300 megawatts of baseload power, which means that this capacity can be tapped into anytime, rain or shine, with very minor fluctuations,” Mr. Aquino said in his speech during the inauguration ceremony. The plant is located in the borders of Davao City in Binugao, Toril and Inawayan in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.
The President emphasized on the plant’s dependable capacity which is roughly equivalent to one-fifth of the Mindanao grid’s highest peak demand in 2015.
He lauded the plant’s operation as it would encourage other private partners to open more baseload power plants. Already, the government private sector partners have committed to undertake at least 11 other power projects in Mindanao that will come online between 2016 and 2020.
The projects, according to the Chief Executive, are envisioned to produce at least another 675.30 megawatts of power which will be more than enough to cover the projected increase in demand in five years’ time.
Even with the coming in of other power source projects, Mr. Aquino said the government has not forgotten its goals to develop renewable energy and commitment to mitigate climate change. He said the country cannot just rely on coal.
“We have increased our usage of renewables, and they now make up 33 percent of our energy mix; we have reduced the number of illegal logging hotspots by 88 percent; and in 2011, we started a National Greening Program, the goal of which is to plant 1.5 billion trees on 1.5 million hectares by this year. We did all this even if our nation’s carbon emissions are minimal especially compared to more industrialized countries,” he said.
According to him, the Mindanao situation has made it obvious that the country needs more baseload power.
Mr. Aquino stressed that the operation of the coal plant is timely as Mindanao is now facing shortage in power supply, recalling how the island suffered from very little energy surplus.
The coal plant is the country’s first coal dome. TSI started construction of the plant in 2012 when the country was still reeling from power crisis. TSI of the Aboitiz Group invested P35 billion in the project and hired 4,500 local workers.
Erramon Aboitiz, CEO of the Aboitiz Power, said they are determined to help solve the Mindanao power problem.
Aboitiz disclosed they have 20 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities including its own Davao Light and Power Company, which has contracted 100MW.
“We will help Mindanao sustain its economic growth,” Aboitiz said. Among the areas that will benefit from the coal plant project are Davao, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan and Zamboanga.
Aboitiz also vowed not do anything that is not good for Davao. He said they are delivering clean coal. “TSI will showcase what a coal plant is,” he said.
TSI is importing coal from Kalimtan in three shipments per month. It needs 3,400 tons of coal to run the plant per day.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional director Marcus Fragada assured that DENR will frequently monitor the air quality and implication of the plant’s operation to nearby rivers and sea water.
Although the impact of the plant operation cannot be experienced as yet, Fragada said a multi-sectoral monitoring team will meet every month to do assessment of its operation and implementation of safeguards.
“All will be addressed by a multi-sectoral monitoring,” Fragada assured. He said DENR also plans to establish an air quality station. Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA / northboundasia.com