Region willing to host Bataan power plant or build new one
KIDAPAWAN CITY – Businessmen and lawmakers on Tuesday said they were willing to turn to nuclear power to end the intermittent blackouts in Mindanao and to cut the cost of electricity on the island.
Ramon Floresta, president of the Kidapawan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Agham Rep. Angelo Palmones said Mindanao would even be willing to host the mothballed Bataan nuclear power plant, which would not only remedy the 100-megawatt deficit but also bring down the cost to P2.50 a kilowatt hour as against the P14 a kilowatt hour being charged by the power barges now.
“If the residents of Luzon have no problem with blackouts and they can afford to say ‘not in our own backyard,’ we don’t subscribe to that,” Foresta told the Manila Standard.
“We agree to host the nuclear power plant and be liberated from the six to eight hours of daily blackouts that [are hurting] our businesses.”
But former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco, who has campaigned for a revival of the Bataan plant, said it would be impractical and too expensive to move the facility to Mindanao, and recommended instead building plants using small modular reactors.
Cojuangco said he met with the governors, congressmen and mayors of Pagadian in Zamboanga, Koronadal, General Santos and Davao del Sur last week and that all of them were agreeable to hosting nuclear power plants in Mindanao.
Floresta, Palmones and Cojuangco on Tuesday said they would attend the Mindanao Power Summit to be hosted by President Benigno Aquino III on Friday at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City.
Ahead of the summit, Cojuangco said the country should build plants using the small modular reactors favored by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The Philippines, he said, should start applying for the construction of the plants so it could add nuclear power to its energy mix by 2018.
“It takes time to build a nuclear power plant, so the Philippines, this early, should already decide to secure permits from international nuclear commissions so that the earliest it could construct and go on stream is by 2018,” Cojuangco said.
Cojuangco’s wife, Pangasinan Rep. Kimi Cojuangco, has filed a bill that would provide host communities an assured supply of power at a discounted rate for as long as 60 years, the life span of a nuclear power plant.
Palmones said Philippine Nuclear Research Institute Executive Director Alumanda dela Rosa had assured him that nuclear plants were safe in Mindanao.
“Mindanao is no different than Bataan, but we have vast lands here that can host the plant away from the residents,” Palmones told the Manila Standard.
“PNRI executive director Alumanda dela Rosa assured us that nuclear plants are safe and will not pose any risk to the residents of Mindanao.”
Floresta said Mindanao could not afford to lose more economically because of the blackouts. He said his 250-hectare banana plantation and other businesses were being threatened by the daily eight-hour blackouts.
“If the answer to the power crisis is we need to go nuclear, then so be it,” Floresta said.
(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on /2012/April/11)