Negros Occidental bans coal-fired plant

By Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY — The Negros Occidental government has officially banned the building of any coal-fired power plant in the province.

In Executive Order No. 19-08 issued last Wednesday, Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. declared the “province of Negros Occidental shall continue to pursue clean and renewable energy projects while opposing the entry or establishment of any coal-fired power plant.”

The order formalized the proposal of Marañon, who originally urged provincial board late last year to pass an ordinance banning coal-fuelled plants. The draft only passed during the first reading.

A known environmental advocate, Marañon joined the religious and private groups in opposing the 300-megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant the SMC Global Power Holdings Corp., a subsidiary of San Miguel Corp., wants to build in San Carlos City.

Negros Occidental is recognized as the country’s solar power capital, being host to the 132.5-MW power plant in Cadiz City said to be one of the biggest solar energy projects in Southeast Asia.

Still, many power distributors in Negros Occidental source its electricity from other areas including the two coal-fired plants in the city and province of Iloilo.

The Climate Reality Project of the Philippines welcomed Marañon’s decision.

“It is our hope that Negros Occidental serves as a model for others to break free from coal and commit to the fight in solving the climate change crisis,” the environmental group said in a statement.