SMC defends plan to pursue coal projects
MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Corp. (SMC) defended its plans to develop coal power plants amid opposition from a consumer and environmental group.
In a statement yesterday, consumer group Murang Kuryente slammed SMC for using scare tactics to push for coal-fired power plant projects.
This as SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang bared the possibility of rotating blackouts in 2020 until 2022 due to regulatory delays in the approval of power plant construction.
“SMC wants more power plants and it wants them now. Unfortunately, they’re all powered by expensive coal, so they’re resorting to frightening announcements to scare the people into submission,” Murang Kuryente spokesperson Gerry Arances said.
Murang Kuryente, a consumer group formed to fight excessive power rates, have identified coal as the primary reason for the high prices of electricity and the unreliability of the country’s power grid in the so-called power crisis that occurred earlier this year.
“Filipinos have a right to affordable, reliable, and sustainable electricity. Coal cannot provide that, but the power sector continues to prioritize profit over service and so they insist on coal, to the detriment of consumers’ wallets and health,” Arances said.
However, Ang said the country needs to put up more power plants to ensure that progress is sustained with the continuing economic growth and aggressive infrastructure development.
Ang said the power plant investments need to be able to address all the critical issues--affordability, reliability, and of course, environmental concerns.
“Our approach to addressing the country’s power needs has always been to maintain a diversified portfolio of traditional and renewable energy sources,” Ang said.
The company, through subsidiary SMC Global Power Holdings Inc., is pushing through with its planned two 2x150-megawatt (MW) circulating fluidized bed (CFB) coal-fired power plants.
These are the Central Luzon Premiere Power Corp. in Pagbilao, Quezon and Mariveles Power Generation Corp. (MPGC) in Mariveles, Bataan.
For its new coal power plant projects, SMC would use the latest, cleanest and safest coal combustion technology.
“These are no longer the coal plants of old that burn so much fuel and emit so much pollution,” Ang said.
“We have been publishing weekly emission results of our new coal power facilities on the front pages of major national dailies, to encourage transparency and show how very low its emissions are,” he said.
To balance coal investments, SMC is also ramping up its renewable energy capacity. It earlier announced plans to build 1,200 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy, targeted for completion by 2024.
“That’s why we are studying hydro, tidal, and wind power technologies and have identified certain locations for these projects,” Ang said.
“Until renewables can produce the same high level of reliable capacity that is also economically viable for ordinary consumers—coal cannot be completely eliminated. What we can work on and advocate is for more companies to put in the necessary investments to produce the cleanest, safest possible coal power as we completely transition to renewables,” he said.