People's Domain

[Opinion] Dear PNoy: Your bosses are choking here

This is a fitting letter addressed to President Noynoy Aquino on the occasion of his upcoming State of the Nation Address. I am one among the many that signed the letter which was prepared and submitted to PNoy by Greenpeace in order to remind him of his accountability regarding his commitment to clean energy.

The 164-MW coal-fired power plant of Metrobank’s Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC) in Iloilo City remains controversial because the people living around the site face health and environmental problems.

Now that the impact on electricity rates has become apparent, most of the influential people and business leaders, including the City Government that supported the coal plant, said they were deceived by the proponent. And there is no action from the city government. The same is happening elsewhere in the country were coal-fired power plants are present.

The current administration must veer away from dependence on fossil fuel-based plants for power generation.

But more coal-fired power plants are gaining entry in Bataan, Davao, Subic-Olongapo and Zamboanga. I believe another one is being proposed in General Santos while a 200-MW coal plant is up for construction in Concepcion town, Iloilo. The people from these areas will bear the brunt once PNoy’s approves these coal-fired power plants despite the well-documented insidious impacts of such facilities on the local environment and the global climate.

President Noynoy, we are reminding you of the commitment you made when you ran for office in 2010, specifically to phase out coal-fired power plants in the country and “shift towards clean, green technologies and energy sources.”

When you became president, we hope that your leadership will usher in a transformation towards a clean energy future through the implementation of the Renewable Energy Act.

Early into your term, the Department of Energy launched the National Renewable Energy Plan, the country’s roadmap to mainstream renewable energy, which in your own words shall “fuel our movement towards the rebuilding of this nation.”

Three years later, however, instead of realizing a surge of investments in clean and renewable energy, we have seen a resurgence of proposals for dirty, coal-fired power plants. In fact, under the direction of Secretary Jose Almendras, the Department of Energy has approved 11 coal projects nationwide, with a combined output of 4,385 MW far exceeding the aggregate number of same projects approved by previous administrations.

While it was busy laying down the red carpet for coal, the DOE also stranded the full implementation of the RE law, allowing the approval of feed-in-tariff (FIT) rates for renewable energy to drag on.

So, the Philippines’ vast RE potential of about 261,000 MW remains untapped, with investors now opting to move to other markets in the region, having been locked out by coal projects in the pipeline.

The communities who will host these plants will live in the shadow of life-threatening toxic emissions, destroyed livelihoods, greater water scarcity, and conflicts.

This will also mean greater energy insecurity and higher electricity costs in the long term because of the increasing cost of finite coal and fossil fuel supplies.

Mr. President, would you rather be remembered as the President who ushered in a truly transformational Energy Revolution for the country, or the President who extinguished the promise of a clean, renewable energy future for the country?

For the remainder of your term, I implore you to make the right choices now for the sake of the current and future generations of Filipinos.

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