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‘BNPP not an option to deal with 2015 power crisis’

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The government will not utilize the mothballed $2.2-billion Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) that dates back to the Marcos regime to avert the power crisis in the summer of 2015, President Aquino said yesterday.

Aquino made the statement during the annual forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines at the Marco Polo Hotel in Pasig City.

“How do you actually ascertain that it is still viable? It’s an old design,” Aquino told journalists.

“With all due respect to our Japanese friends, their rigidity in terms of rules did not prevent the tragedy of Fukushima,” he added, referring to the tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 and damaged its nuclear power plants.

The BNPP, which the government fully paid for in 2008, can produce roughly 620 megawatts (MW) at only P2.50 per kilowatt-hour, compared to the current rate of P11 per kwh.

The facility was closed down when Aquino’s mother Corazon took over the presidency in February 1986. The government is reportedly spending P50 million yearly to maintain it.

Aquino said there is an ongoing study on whether to convert the BNPP into a gas-powered plant or a coal-powered plant.

In late July, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government was open to the proposal to convert the BNPP into a natural gas-powered facility to ease the country’s growing demand for energy. A South Korean firm was also reportedly interested in converting the BNPP into a coal-powered plant.

Coloma made the statement when asked if the government was willing to consider a proposal in Congress to convert the BNPP into a gas-fired plant.

He said the suggestion to convert the BNPP was raised before, but there was a need to reassess a previous study to determine if the proposal was viable for the government and interested investors.

Proponents of the conversion of the BNPP said that operating the plant would be easy because the country has natural gas in Palawan.

They pointed out that instead of spending millions every year on the plant’s maintenance, the government could convert it to produce 1,800 MW of power.

‘Postpone power plant shutdowns’

Meanwhile, lawmakers urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to postpone scheduled power plant maintenance shutdowns for summer of 2015 to avert forecast rotating blackouts, following Congress’ rejection of President Aquino’s request for emergency powers to rent or buy generators which could cost taxpayers up to P12 billion.

“Can they postpone? Yes, they can. They have done that in the past,” Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares told the weekly news conference of the minority bloc in the House of Representatives.

He said the DOE should ask power plant owners to undertake their maintenance before or after the summer months of March to June when supply is forecast to be more than sufficient for any possible disruption.

He noted that based on the report the DOE submitted to the House energy committee last Monday, supply for summer would be sufficient except for the first and second weeks of April when it estimated supply to be short by 21 MW and 31 MW, respectively.

He also pointed out that the DOE wanted a 647-MW reserve, bloating the projected shortfall to 668-678 MW.

“If they postpone the shutdowns, we will have enough supply even for reserve, which they say is needed in case a plant breaks down,” Colmenares added. – With Jess Diaz

A SOUTH KOREAN

AQUINO

BATAAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT

BAYAN MUNA REP

BNPP

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES

GOVERNMENT

PLANT

PRESIDENT AQUINO

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