The provincial government of Palawan has clarified that the hosting of the nuclear power plant is a suggestion of the Department of Energy (DOE) to Governor Jose Alvarez and not part of the province’s energization plan.
In a report, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said that Palawan has joined the list of areas that are “open to hosting” the power plant as the country starts to consider thermal power using nuclear reactors as the heat source.
Cusi said that in a recent briefing with Governor Alvarez, he expressed interest in Palawan hosting the nuclear power plant, but “subject to public consultation”.
Provincial information officer Winston Arzaga in an interview with Palawan News allayed concerns about the plan, stating was the DOE secretary who suggested the project to the governor.
“Nag-suggest or parang tinanong ni Secretary Cusi si Gob kung open ang Palawan sa nuclear power plant. Sabi naman ni gob ay may consultations pa ‘yan. Pero ang malinaw doon ay hindi ito plano ni governor, verbal nga lang ito at sa tingin ko ay it will take time para mangyari,” Arzaga said.
He said that Cusi possibly wants Palawan for this project because it is an earthquake-free province.
As a developing province, Palawan also needs an efficient and stable electricity supply.
“Gusto nila ang Palawan dahil earthquake free. Kung titingnan natin ‘yon ay magiging maganda kasi wala na tayong magiging problema sa kuryente. Palawan, being a developing province dahil sa turismo at iba pang industriya ay talagang magiging dependab tayo sa kuryente,” Arzaga said.
He also emphasized that this nuclear power plant would also require a series of public consultations to consider the opinion and views of the majority.
“Kahit naman may napag-usapan ay malinaw na hindi ito kasama sa plano ng probinsya. Isa pa, kung sakali man ay may consultations na gagawin d’yan na tingin ko ‘yon ang mabigat,” he added.
Cusi made the update following the signing of Executive Order No. 116 that directs the establishment of a multi-agency body that will conduct the study on the viability of nuclear energy.
Cusi also recommended some steps in the use of nuclear technology as well as existing facilities such as but not limited to the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
He said the government was firm on including nuclear energy in the country’s energy mix— the portfolio of resources from which electricity is produced.
“The Philippines’ use of nuclear energy is not dependent on the possible use of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. The three areas [Palawan, Sulu, and Cagayan] are looking into small modular nuclear reactors,” Cusi said in a national report.
Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE) spokesperson Cynthia Sumagaysay also expressed concern about the report.
She said that the nuclear power plant is risky compared to the renewable energy which is available in Palawan based on the Palawan Island Power Development Plan (PIPDP).
“It is mind-boggling how our local leaders would prefer energy that will be sourced from somewhere else instead of prioritizing renewable energy sources that are plenty in Palawan such as our rivers. Indigenous energy resources are more beneficial to the people for being cheaper and less destructive to the environment,” Sumagaysay said.
According to the PIPDP, Sumagaysay said that Palawan has a potential hydro resource of 143.6 MW, a solar resource of 11.3 MW, and a wind resource of 10 MW but not yet implemented.
“Palawan has a comprehensive energy masterplan called PIPDP which will show that energy from a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power plant will cost less over other options such as energy from a coal-fired power plant, etc. The energy masterplan is supposed to answer the energy needs of Palawan for the next 20 years but for some reason, it is not being implemented,” she added.
Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda, Environmental Legal Assistance Center Inc. (ELAC) executive director also said that they are against the proposal.
“ELAC is against the building of a nuclear power plant in view of its risks and dangers to people and the environment,” Anda said.