Pangasinan being eyed as site for new $2-billion coal-fired power plant

In Photo: Aerial view of Sual power station

SUAL,Pangasinan—After the successful venture of a 1,200-megawatt coal-fired power plant launched two decades ago, a South Korea-based multinational firm is planning to put up a new, state-of-the-art 1,000 MW coal-based power plant here to boost supply in the Luzon grid system at cheaper cost.

Sual Mayor Roberto Arcinue revealed that the Korean energy firm is ready to pump $2 billion into the project, which won the support of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan following an endorsement in a referendum by the majority of the townsfolk.

This town already hosts Team Energy’s 1,200-MW Sual power station, the country’s biggest coal-fired power plant, located in Barangay Pangascasan, Sual, which began operating in 1999.

“Our population is growing and we need an additional power plant to serve the people of Luzon, North Luzon and Metro Manila,” the mayor said.

Power rates in the Philippines are the third highest in Asia and fourth in the Asia-Pacific region, said a study by the International Energy Consultants (IEC), an Australia-based consulting firm specializing in Asian power markets.

The Philippines’s power rates are also the 16th highest in the world.

The study says that one major reason  other Asian countries have lower electricity prices is that the Philippines’s power-generation capacity is low, with total primary energy supply per person per year of only 0.44 tons of oil.

With this situation, local officials welcome the possible entry of another coal-power plant the way President Duterte welcomed the construction of a 135-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Iloilo province in November last year, and the 405-megawatt coal-power plant in Misamis Oriental in September 2016.

Arcinue echoed what then-Davao City Mayor Duterte said  as he  campaigned for the presidency that he saw nothing wrong with the government’s plan to put up new coal-fired power plants to boost power supply in the country.

“You open the Philippines to all power players, I guarantee you the electricity will become cheaper,” Duterte said during the second presidential debate at the University of the Philippines Cebu.

Serving now as the country’s chief executive, Duterte said the Philippines will continue to use coal in power generation but will implement new technologies to minimize emissions.

“At this time, whoever is the president of the Philippines would always contend with coal. There’s still so much coal that can be utilized by civilization for the next 50 to 70 years, ” Duterte said during the inauguration of the coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental.

Arcinue said that aside from providing hundreds of jobs and millions in extra revenues, a second power plant would ensure stable power supply that is conducive to economic progress and sustainable growth.

“With stable and cheaper  electricity we will be able to invite more investors to put up projects and business ventures in Sual and anywhere else in Pangasinan that would mean more jobs and income for our people,” he added.

He said the proposed power plant project dovetails with his vision and that of the provincial government led by Gov. Amado Espino III to transform the municipality of Sual into an
“Energy City.”

Endowed with a clean and deep-blue sea and having been declared as a special economic zone, Sual has become an apple of the eye of several big-ticket investors ranging from power plant and petro-chemical operators to ship repair and airport companies.

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Turning Points 2018