What is the real power situation?
The rated capacity of the existing power producers supplying to Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) is 64MW, with a dependable supply capacity of 54MW. The peak demand is 29MW. In effect, there are 25MW of power in excess of what we need at this time. It is estimated that the dependable generating capacity is good for forecasted demand thru mid-2015, assuming that growth and investment forecasts are met.
If there is no lack of power supply, why do we experience brownouts / blackouts?
Paleco claims that the outages are caused by faults in the power plants, which is not entirely true. From reports monitored, one of the causes is low frequency caused by excess power. What a paradox! Is this because the transmission lines cannot handle the load, which creates a blowback effect that causes the drop in frequency? If that is the case, that is a distribution problem, not a generation problem… therefore, Paleco the distributor is at fault.
There are also valid speculations that the outages are orchestrated to condition the minds of the public so that they will agree to the coal-fired plant. Another conjecture is that the outages are the handiwork of Paleco employees disgruntled with GM Sarra, and these are intended to incur the ire of the members / consumers so that they move for the ouster of Sarra.
What are the benefits and detriments of a coal-fired plant?
Using coal to fuel a power generating plant will result in a lower cost for the power producer, estimated at P6/kwh, compared to higher costs if fueled by bunker oil or diesel. The lower cost, however, is offset by the unquantifiable social costs of pollution, resulting in health hazards, global warming and damage to the ecosystem. Waste products of a coal-fired plant include black smoke, soot, ashes, hot water from boilers and cooling systems, carbon monoxide, sulfur, mercury, to name a few. Reduced cost to the power producer is the only benefit of using coal as a fuel, while the hidden social cost to the population due to health concerns, fish kills, reduced agricultural productivity, and other detrimental effects cannot be quantified.
What is Clean Coal?
“Clean Coal” is an oxymoron. (Oxymoron, noun, expression with contradictory words, a phrase in which two words of contradictory meaning are used together for special effect, as in ‘deafening silence,’ or ‘wise fool,’ or ‘legal crime,’ or ‘honest thief.’) This phrase was probably coined by coal propagandists to keep up with the growing global Green movement. As for new-tech coal plants, if any such plants exist, the cost to clean emissions and effusions would defeat the cost-effectiveness of coal as a fuel.
What is the outlook for coal and coal-fired plants?
The market for coal is declining world-wide because developed countries are closing down their coal-fired plants. China has cancelled forward contracts of coal supplies from Indonesia and Australia, while Philippine coal has yet to develop a stable international market. In the Philippines, coal-fired power-producing plants will soon surpass 50% of generating capacity, which is the only reliable market for coal mines like Semirara Coal, a sister-company of DMCI Power.
What then is the solution to minimize or eliminate power outages?
The problem is not caused by a lack of supply, but by an inadequate and ineffective distribution system. Adding a coal-fired power plant will not solve the problem, it will only increase the profitability of DMCI. What Napocor and Paleco should do is maintain and improve the transmission lines, fuse links, line-clearing, and modernize the system, including replacement of rotting and rottable wooden poles with cement or steel poles.
Who is to blame for our present power and political crisis?
Had Paleco not entered into a controversial and grossly disadvantageous contract with DMCI Power, which included a combination of diesel/coal power generation, this unpopular and divisive issue would not have come about. Our province is now divided between the anti- and pro- coal factions, with the political leadership now faced with dissent, discontent and distrust in so early a time as four months into its administration.
Even considering that a coal plant is an economic certainty, not taking into account its social cost, a coal-fired plant does not fit Palawan’s character. We aspire for sustainability. A coal-fired plant is not a sustainable undertaking. Coal is a fossil, and as a resource is better left in the ground; perhaps in a million years or so the future generations can harvest these as diamonds…
*It was originally posted by Mr. Joey Mirasol in No To Coal in Palawan Page https://www.facebook.com/groups/NOTOCOALPALAWAN/permalink/549266828488857/)