The San Miguel Corp. Global Holdings recently announced that it will construct a 300 megawatt Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) power plant in San Carlos City, as confirmed by former t representative Alfredo “Albee” Benitez (Negros Occidental, 3rd District) in a DIGICAST NEGROS report last week.
The powerphilippines.com earlier reported that this energy project would be located within the San Carlos Ecozone along the Tañon Strait, which separates the islands of Negros and Cebu.
It claimed that SMC is investing about Php 18.5 billion to construct four 75MW generators and the project is now in its early stage in implementing the processes of the Environmental Impact Assessment. It is expected that the construction of the LNG plant would commence by the 3rd quarter of this year and it will be completed by the 2nd quarter of 2024.
Benitez, who is also a mayoralty contender in Bacolod City in the coming May 2022 elections, said once this power plant established there would provide sufficient power in Negros that is completely renewable. Obviously, Benitez is also referring to LNG as renewable energy, which is not true. LNG is among the nonrenewable energy resources of the world.
The National Geographic has identified four major sources of nonrenewable energy resources, and these are oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear. Except for nuclear, the three other kinds of energy are collectively called fossil fuels, since they were formed within the Earth from dead plants and animals from over millions of years ago, the National Geographic said in its online article. Nonrenewable energy resources are usually found in underground layers of rock and sediment.
The National Geographic further explains that pressure and heat worked together to transform the remains of plant and animals into crude oil or petroleum, coal, and natural gas. The use of fossilized fuel, especially crude oil and coal, has already been identified to cause huge carbon emissions that contributed to the destruction of the ozone layer, which in effect caused global warming and what is now known as climate change.
Although LNG is a relatively clean source of energy, it would not last for a lifetime since once the stocks are exhausted, it could no longer replenish. The concern comes in because it seems our priority now is to further top and exhaust our nonrenewable energy resources without first maximizing the potentials of renewable energy resources, like solar, hydro, ocean, and even geothermal.
This is a question that is true in Negros since we already have sources of geothermal energy and solar energy, and yet we are always confronted with arguments that they are not yet sufficient and, therefore, the need to source out for more and this includes nonrenewable energy, such as the LNG.
If I remember right, there was also a proposal by SMC to construct a coal-fired power plant in San Carlos a few years ago. However, with the strong opposition from environment groups and individuals, as well as the Executive Order issued by the late governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. declaring Negros Occidental free from coal power plants, the proposed project did not proceed.
I don’t know if there was already a study to exactly determine the viability and feasibility of the LNG at the Tañon Straight for the construction of this 300MW power plant. If so, then it was already an energy exploration, but was there any consultation among stakeholders on that? Since it was mentioned that the LNG will be sourced out from Tañon Strait, I am suspecting that it is within the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape, a declared protected area covering the coastal and marine waters in between Negros and Cebu.
The National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992, as amended by the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018 clearly provides that nonrenewable energy development within protected areas should be subject to congressional approval with prior endorsement from the concerned Protected Area Management Board. The congressional legislative processes may take a longer period of time but it is on this procedure that stakeholders should be vigilant and raise the concerns they may have on this nonrenewable energy development project in Negros Occidental.*