DOE moratorium on coal power projects seen ‘indecisive, toothless’
Consumer welfare advocacy groups on Wednesday urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to come out with a list of coal-fired power plant projects that were no longer allowed to proceed in order to make good an announcement made last year about a moratorium on new coal projects.
Rallied around the Power for People Coalition (P4P), the groups said the moratorium needed to be made clear considering that the policy was “indecisive, opaque and toothless.”
In 2019, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi told the committee on appropriations at the House of Representatives that a “moratorium on any technology is a disservice to our country.”
However, on Oct. 27, 2020, Cusi announced at an international forum that the government had decided on a moratorium on greenfield coal projects. The DOE would take almost three months to spell out the policy, releasing on Jan. 11, 2021, a memorandum dated Dec. 22.
Back then, P4P said the memorandum was “underwhelming” considering that the ban was about no longer accepting new applications for endorsement of coal projects, instead of outrightly disallowing the construction of any new coal-fired facility. The Philippine Energy Plan 2020-2040—also published late by about two years, coming out just earlier this month—states that the moratorium “covers new applications on coal power projects [and] does not affect existing coal power plants with firm expansion plans, committed coal power projects and indicative coal power projects with significant progress in securing the necessary permits.”
On Wednesday, lawyer Avril de Torres of the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development said the DOE should do some more clarifying.
“A coal moratorium mired in ambiguity benefits no one—not the public servants obliged to implement it, not the proponents whose projects are in limbo, and most certainly, not the people seeking refuge from coal’s harmful impacts, electricity spikes amidst a global energy crunch, and aggravating climate catastrophes,” De Torres said in a press briefing, quoting a P4P letter sent to Cusi.
“We urge the DOE to take bold actions in support of their pronouncement against coal, starting with issuing the official list of coal-fired power projects shelved by the coal moratorium, which should include [10 projects],” she said.
P4P’s list includes projects of SMC Global Power Holdings Corp., 600 megawatts project; Global Luzon Energy Development Corp., 670 MW; St. Raphael Power Gen Corp., 700 MW; H&WB Asia Pacific (Pte Ltd.) Corp., 700 MW; Merbau Corp., 600 MW; Ozamis Power Gen Inc., 300 MW; Orion Pacific Prime Energy Inc., 1,200 MW; Masinloc Power Partners Co., 700 MW; Petron Corp.’s 44 MW, and San Ramon Power Inc., 120 MW.“A year of dawdling is enough,” De Torres said. “The climate, the health of our people and environment and the pockets of electricity consumers cannot be made to wait any longer. Consign coal to history once and for all.”
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