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Renewable energy for Mindanao


It is becoming apparent that DOE Secretary Jose Rene Almendras is biased against the development of renewable energy resources in the Philippines, and it is becoming apparent that his bias against RE is because RE-based power plants are going to displace oil- and coal-fueled power plants, in which the Secretary appears to have vested interest.

In the Manila Bulletin article below by Myrna Velasco (which should have been written as an opinion column rather than a factual report; she interposes a number of unattributed opinions about energy issues in her article), Secretary Almendras says that some business groups in Mindanao are opposing the proposal to construct 100 MW of solar PV power plants in Mindanao. What he did not say is that the only business groups in Mindanao who are opposing solar PV and other renewable energy resources are the owners and proponents of oil-fueled and coal-fueled power plants.
And Sec. Almendras cites the increase in rates as the reason for the opposition, rather than the true reason for the opposition by these generating companies, which is that the electric energy from the RE-based power plants will displace the production of the existing fossil-fueled power plants, and thereby reduce the earnings of the owners of these conventional power plants.

The Secretary also does not mention that if massive development of RE-based power plants is started in Mindanao, it will make unnecessary the coal power plant proposed for Davao City, and strongly supported by Secretary Almendras.

Here is a statement made by Sec. Almendras during a public forum in Davao City, quoted in the EdgeDavao, Vol. 4, No. 28, Sept. 12-18, 2011: “All the coal projects are having difficulties because of opposition citing environmental concerns. We will have brownouts in 2014. Don’t blame me if you don’t want coal.”

Secretary Almendras is being hypocritical in his concern about the rate impact of solar PV on Mindanao customers. While he is placing obstacles into the implementation of the National Renewable Energy Program, he is pushing the PSALM to accelerate the privatization of the hydro power plants on the Agus and Pulangi rivers. He knows that the rate impact of the privatization of Agus-Pulangi will be an increase in the rates of Mindanao customers in the amount of one to two pesos per kilowatt-hour (P1.00 to 2.00 per kWh).

He also knows that the rate impact of 100 MW solar PV power plant in Mindanao will be an increase in the amount of 2.28 centavos per kWh (Php 0.0228/kWh). And yet he insists that customers in Mindanao are against solar PV because of their impact on rates. Who are those customers, Mr. Secretary?

All advocates of renewable energy resources should start campaigning for the removal of Sec. Almendras from the Department of Energy. While he remains in the DOE, which is mandated to accelerate the implementation of the National Renewable Energy Program, he will continue to put up obstacles, both actual and imaginary, to the development of RE resources in the Philippines.

And all power consumers in Mindanao should likewise start campaigning for the replacement of Sec. Almendras by a more Mindanao-friendly secretary. He is saying “no way” to 100 MW solar PV power plants for Mindanao, despite knowing that solar PV will help assuage the impending power shortage in Mindanao, that they are the fastest power plants that could be made operational, and that their impact on rates in Mindanao will be a mere 2.28 centavos compared with the 6 centavos to one peso per kWh increase that would result from the construction of 100 MW of diesel-fueled power plants.

Down with DOE Secretary Jose Rene Almendras! Up with Renewable Energy for Mindanao!

By David Tauli

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