Revoked and Restrained

December 6, 2013 marked two victories for Palawenos who are fighting against the coal-fired power plant project of DMCI.

First, the newly installed Barangay Council of San Juan, Aborlan passed a resolution that revoked their predecessors' endorsement of the coal plant. How this development will be received by the proponents and by the Governor of Palawan, a staunch supporter of DMCI, remains to be seen.

Second, the homegrown advocates of No To Coal who organized and called themselves SAFE (Save Aborlan From Evils) went to court for a temporary restraining order. A few hours after the announcement of the resolution's revocation, the Regional Trial Court of Palawan under Judge Joselyn Dilig issued a 72-hour Temporary Environmental Protection Order or TEPO. It prohibits the Palawan Council of Sustainable Development from issuing a SEP clearance to DMCI until the court clarifies the issue.

These twin victories were capped by the visit of Lolita Carbon, the voice behind the famous 70's band, Asin. Lolita Carbon held a free concert where she gamely sang with Palaweno talents. She vowed to come back to support the No To Coal initiative via a concert cum rally.

We are hopeful that the odds will be on the No To Coal side in the coming days and weeks. Little victories such as these serve as inspiration among the defenders of Palawan against environmental destruction.


Below is an article written by Mr. Joey Mirasol and posted originally at Bantay PALECO. It serves  as an exposition on the current power situation in Palawan. 

Due to much hecticity, have not posted much lately. But it’s nice to note that the No To Coal group has added Paleco to their gunsight, Paleco being the culprit behind the controversial coal plant that has divided our citizenry and raised doubts about the quality of our new provincial leaders.

The truth is now clear. The coal plant will not solve our electric power crisis. No additional power will be added to the existing 55MW of dependable generating capacity. DMCI has fulfilled their supply contract of 25MW using their diesel gensets, and the coal plant will only serve to increase DMCI’s profitability by allowing them to retire their less pollutive diesel gensets and shift to highly pollutive but less expensive coal. Need we help raise David Consunji’s ranking above being the #5 richest man in the Philippines?

Our power crisis is not caused by a lack of supply but by poor transmission and distribution facilities, problems not caused by the power producers but by Napocor and Paleco. The main order of business is to improve our transmission and distribution facilities, not to protect the power generators. Wasn’t it stupid on the part of Paleco to bid out power requirements way in excess of what we need? Our peak load as at October 2013 was 27MW, and even assuming a high demand in December of up to 30MW, we have an unused excess generating capacity of 25MW. Did Paleco ensure DMCI’s bid by requiring 25MW, when we could have done with 15MW through 2016? In doing so, Paleco disqualified renewable energy providers, who could only offer no more than 16MW within the 2 year time-frame given in the bid guidelines prepared by the consultant who is rumored to be allied with DMCI. Clear and simple bid rigging, don’t you think?

Our provincial leadership is obviously misinformed. Their desire to assure supply when needed may have led them to endorse the coal plant. But Paleco’s forecast demand will not consume the excess supply till beyond 2016. Paleco reports that as at September 2013, the status of electrification is 89% of 288 barangays province-wide. If by some miracle all were to be electrified today, we would need only an additional 3MW to supply the total requirements. But of course not all of the 31 barangays awaiting energization can be supplied without first running transmission and distribution lines, which should have been Paleco’s priority. PNoy’s ongoing sitio electrification program will also help increase the number of barangays electrified with off-grid systems for those that are in the islands or are very remote.

Our leaders are also under the impression that there are no serious renewable energy investors available, thus they may as well approve coal. Wrong again, because there is a serious hydro power provider that has been ignored by Paleco and a biomass power proponent (although this would again involve pollution because of wood-burning) waiting for a power supply agreement from Paleco. Due to the excess capacity, Paleco is not inclined to consider any other power supply provider, whether this be fossil fuel or renewable sources. Did Paleco create a coal monster that they are stuck with?

The solution to our power crisis is to improve the management of Paleco. We have a board made up of 3 overstaying directors, 1 past the qualified age, 2 who are mortal enemies, and the rest bystanders. Add to that an unqualified general manager, and you have a totally inept, self-serving and morally bankrupt management. Let us not forget that Paleco is our cooperative, it belongs to us members, and only we can do what is necessary to effect the much needed changes that will ensure a service-oriented, transparent, accountable and effective electric cooperative.

I have been waging a quixotic war against the GM and the board since September, to no avail. I have gone to the extent of filing a verified complaint with the NEA against the appointment of GM Sarra, who thick-facedly clings to her illegally-appointed position. I now need the help of the members to effect what needs to be done, which is to declare the positions of the entire board and general manager vacant.

Let us sign the No To Coal group’s petition to hold a general assembly, during which we should file a resolution to declare said positions vacant, and elect an interim board to serve for one year with the task of amending the cooperative’s by-laws and improving the service of Paleco, conditioned with the proviso that those elected to the interim board can no longer run as directors or apply for management positions in Paleco.

Are you all willing to do this for the good of our cooperative?