Green groups hail cancellation of three more coal projects

August 12, 2021

An environmental activist shows a piece of coal in this photo taken in 2018. Photo by Mark Z. Saludes

Pro-environment groups scored another victory after corporate giant San Miguel Corporation (SMC) canceled three more coal-fired power projects this week. 

The groups said the years of struggle and resistance of affected communities by coal and other dirty energy projects “are finally paying off.” 

In a letter dated August 10, the Philippines’ energy department confirmed that another three coal-fired power plants in Quezon and Davao provinces have been discontinued by SMC.

The proposed projects are the Central Luzon Premiere Power Corporation (CLPPC) 4×355 MW coal project, Lumiere Energy Technologies Inc. (LETI) 2×355 MW coal project, and SMC Global Power 4×82 Sta. Cruz project.

Gerry Arances of the Power for People Coalition said the country’s “coal pipeline is shrinking, as it should,” with the new cancellations.

“This is welcome news especially as it comes soon after scientists from all over the world once again sounded the climate alarm,” he said. 

He urged SMC to totally abandon its remaining two coal projects – a 1,200 MW coal plant project in Mariveles, Bataan that is reportedly under construction and a 300 MW expansion project in Malita, Davao.

“It’s about time for SMC to admit defeat and put its last two coal projects out,” he said. 

Rodne Galicha, executive director of Living Laudato Si Philippines said, “It is not yet too late for SMC, being one of the country’s largest corporations, to act and heed the cry of the earth and the poor.”

He urged the corporate giant to respect the “right of the public to choose the kind of energy source they want – the ones that respond to their needs while protecting ecosystems integrity.”  

Galicha said in the present ecological crisis, “businesses must have genuine moral duty and responsibility while making amends to the social and ecological maladies they caused.”

Arances said SMC’s move to walk away from coal projects “does not give the company reason to simply switch to another fossil fuel.” 

“SMC is already parading a renewable energy (RE) front, and if it wishes to stick to this, it needs to take the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) cue and cut off its fossil fuel ties,” said Arances.

In a report released on August 10, IPCC concluded that global warming is dangerously close to spiraling out of control and that even the most severe carbon emission cuts are unlikely to prevent global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures by 2040.

On July 11, SMC announced that it is “adding more renewables into its power portfolio” with the construction of solar plants and 31 Battery Energy Storage System facilities in 10 locations across the country.

In a statement, SMC president Ramon S. Ang said the move is “to ensure that as we transition to cleaner sources, we will not undermine our commitment to meet the growing demand for affordable and reliable energy.”

Also in July, the corporation announced that it will convert a proposed 300-megawatt (MW) coal plant in San Carlos City in Negros Occidental into a gas-powered facility.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos lambasted SMC’s plan to replace a “dirty-energy project” with another “polluting fossil fuel project.”

“Why start with another fossil fuel when the call to address our climate crisis is to progressively replace without delay all polluting fossil fuels?” the prelate said. 

There are at least 28 operating coal-fired power plants across the country with a total installed capacity of 9.88 gigawatts. 

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