Religious leaders urged investors in the energy sector to back away from funding coal particulary in the Visayas and Mindanao as the Department of Energy (DOE) called on local government officials and business groups to seek more power investors to sustain the growing demand particularly in Visayan regions.
Bishop Gerard Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos warned against the apparent bias for coal in the DOE’s encouragement as it downplays the contribution of renewable energy to growth in Visayas, as it downplays the impacts of coal projects to the health and environment in the Visayan regions.
“As our province’s coal-free status is being threatened by the incoming provincial administration, we are alarmed as the DOE is not giving policymakers and the business sector the whole picture in terms of the costs attached to coal-fired power plants, and why it is not the better choice as opposed to renewable energy,” said Bishop Alminaza.
The Bishop previously called out Governor-elect Eugenio Jose Lacson for stating that he will not honor the ordinance declaring Negros Occidental as a coal-free province. San Miguel Corporation currently eyes the construction of a 300 MW coal plant in San Carlos City.
“In encouraging energy investments, the DOE should not just focus on bringing in new energy sources, but also the role of investments in improving the grid system and energy storage in Visayas to maximize and encourage more renewable energy sources,” Bishop Alminaza continued. “In failing to do so, it is basically implying that the Visayas should look to massive coal-fired power plants which harm our environment, health, and worsens the climate crisis.”
“In Mindanao, the rush of coal-fired power plants led to a surge in the prices of electricity, as consumers are obligated to pay for the abundance of coal plants providing not just base load of electricity, but also the peaking and intermediate loads,” said Arances. “The fear of averting brownouts in Mindanao has unfortunately led to an overabundance of coal plants in the area and the drastic increase in the cost of power, negating the low prices Mindanaoans used to experience with renewable energy.”
“Meanwhile, Luzon has suffered increased rates and power interruptions because of the underperformance of coal-fired power plants which underwent unscheduled maintenance shutdowns,” Arances continued.
Arances noted that the costliness, unreliability, and environmental impacts by coal-fired power plants are already being felt by Visayas, like in Ilo-ilo which has one of the highest power rates in the Philippines. “This is unfortunate given the high renewable energy potential in Visayas being taken for granted.”(PR)