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Mindanao open to nuclear power plant

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DAVAO CITY -- Local government units in Mindanao, lawmakers and the business sector expressed willingness to host a nuclear power plant to solve power shortage in the region.

Ramon Floresta, president of the Kidapawan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones on Tuesday said Mindanao was willing to host the nuclear power plant that would remedy the 100-megawatt (MW) deficit and bring down the cost of electricity to P2.50 per kilowatt hour as against the present P14 per kilowatt hour being charged by power barges.

"If 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. We agree to host the nuclear power plant and be liberated from the six to eight hours of daily blackouts that adversely impact on our businesses," said Floresta in an interview.

Former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco, who authored in the 14th Congress a resolution seeking the revival of the controversial Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), said local officials in the affected power shortage in Mindanao were convinced that nuclear power plant is the solution to their power problem.

He 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 host nuclear power plants in Mindanao.

In the planned nuclear power plant, Cojuangco proposed the newest technology being pushed by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (US-NRC) on the use of small modular reactor as against the BNPP’s pressurized water reactor.

He said the US-NRC already issued combined licenses to Georgia and South Carolina to build the small modular reactor plants.
Cojuangco said the Philippines should start applying for the construction of the plants so that it could go on stream 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," he said.

Cojuangco’s proposal provides that the host community would be assured of power supply at a discounted rate or free power for as long as 60 years, which is the life span of the nuclear power plant.

The host community would also be given a share of the tax derived from the sale of the nuclear power, he said.
Palmones said the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) has assured that nuclear plants are safe in Mindanao.

"Mindanao is no different from Bataan. But we have vast lands here that can host the plant away from the residents. PNRI executive director Alumanda dela Rosa assured us that nuclear plants are safe and will not pose any risk to the residents of Mindanao," he said.
Floresta said Mindanao cannot afford to lose more economically because of the blackouts.

He said his 250-hectare banana plantation and other businesses are being threatened by the daily eight-hour power interruptions.
"If the answer to the power crisis is we need to go nuclear, then so be it. We know it is safe," he said.

The government is hosting a Mindanao Power Summit on April 13 to be held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel here to be presided by no less than President Benigno Aquino III.

The Mindanao Power Summit is being organized to present the overview on the real Mindanao power situation, generate and discuss consensus attendant to the power problem and the corresponding immediate solutions, and assure the general public of definitive measures taken not just by the government but also by the power stakeholders.

Cojuangco, Palmones and Floresta said they will attend the forum and air their position to the President.

by: PNA/PIA9-ZBST




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