Wake Up, Philippines!

Back to Bataan? (1)

Posted in Alternative Energy, Congress, Energy, Legislation by Erineus on February 27, 2009

(First of two parts)

From time to time, we hear about attempts to rehabilitate and finally use the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. We also continue to hear reports that the end of the world is at hand, but that has happened yet, either.

Why some people insist upon trying to revive the BNPP instead of, say, putting up a new nuclear power plant from scratch somewhere else remains a mystery. Perhaps, to end this three-decade fixation on a plant that never produced a single watt of electricity despite the billions spent to build and pay for it, the government should just dismantle the facility immediately.

This is not a treatise against the use of nuclear energy to produce electricity. On the contrary, given our continued dependence on imported petroleum for our energy needs, any effort by the government to wean us from foreign oil and to add new power sources to our financially and environmentally unhealthy supply mix should be encouraged.

Any effort, that is, except the one to revive the BNPP. Given the money-sucking history of the Bataan plant—to say nothing of safety concerns because of its dangerous location, outdated technology and suspect structural integrity—even studies on its rehabilitation and use like the ones now being proposed in Congress should be discouraged as a waste of time, scarce resources and, yes, energy.

Indeed, the world over, nuclear energy is once again enjoying a revival. Thanks to the unpredictability of petroleum prices, the environmental dangers posed by burning oil and the dwindling of underground reserves, many countries have rediscovered nuclear power and are racing to build new power plants that use the fuel that once made Three Mile Island and Chernobyl household names.

In Asia, China is building eight new nuclear power plants with a combined output of 7,300 megawatts, while India is adding 2,700 MW to its mix by putting up five nuclear plants. Vietnam and Indonesia plan to add 4,000 MW each using new nuclear plants by 2020.

In a complete turnaround from its former environmentally incorrect image, nuclear power is now also being bandied about as the solution to global warming. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that 32 new nuclear power plants have to be built each year from now until 2050 to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half.

The key word—for the Philippines, at least—is “new.” And the BNPP is so old and very likely so obsolete that it could be compared to using a 50-year-old car to compete on a contemporary racetrack: an exercise that is costly, inefficient, dangerous and ultimately idiotic.

* * *

The latest proposal to revive the BNPP comes from Congress, where a bill to fund studies on the mothballed plant is undergoing deliberations. The proposed law authored by Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco seeks government funding for “complete technical, economic, environmental, and financial feasibility studies for electricity generation” using the plant.

Prior to that, in the teeth of last year’s upward spiraling of world oil prices, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes proposed allocating $800 million to put the 621-MW plant onstream, purportedly upon the recommendation of the IAEA. Then world oil prices plunged, and nothing further was heard about Reyes’ proposal.

True, the current Congress proposal seeks a mere P10 million for the creation of a task force that will conduct a feasibility study on the plant’s rehabilitation and use. Furthermore, Cojuangco said his bill institutes a “validation process” that will either affirm or reject the soundness of rehabilitating and using the mothballed plant, with a provision that the BNPP be immediately demolished should the validation show adverse findings.

Still, it’s not as if the viability of using the Bataan plant hasn’t been studied—and basically recommended for dismantling—before. And it definitely isn’t the first time that good money has been attempted to be thrown after all the bad that was sunk into the BNPP, which has entered the history books as the biggest single debt incurred by the Philippine government.

During a hearing on the Cojuangco proposal before the House appropriations committee, a former top consultant on the BNPP, Nicanor Perlas, disclosed that the Aquino administration commissioned a $9.5-million study conducted by 50 nuclear experts from different parts of the world which discovered that the plant had 40,000 defects. Perlas, a former technical consultant to both the Senate ad hoc committee on the BNPP and a presidential commission on the facility, said copies of the study are available at the Senate and Office of the President.

“The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant had four times the average [defects] for nuclear power plant construction. In addition, the earthquake and volcanic hazards of the site had never been satisfactorily resolved until today. It will be catastrophic, should the plant [be] operated,” Perlas told the congressman. But Cojuangco barred Perlas from further citing the Aquino-era study, saying he was merely spouting hearsay because neither he nor Congress had copies of the document.

In a statement distributed to reporters after the hearing, Perlas said the visiting experts concluded that the BNPP cannot be operated safely and efficiently. It appears that this study, on top of the Aquino administration’s aversion to any project from the previous Marcos era, provided the excuse not to use the power plant after its completion more than two decades ago.

However, even if it can be argued that the rehabilitation of the BNPP needs more study, the cost of getting the plant online after all these years is definitely prohibitive. And given the humongous amounts already spent for the Philippines’ all-time biggest white elephant, allocating even a peso more seems scandalous.

Lowdown
Jojo Robles
Manila Standard Today

http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=jojoRobles_feb26_2009

CBCP rejects nuclear power plant revival

Posted in Alternative Energy, Energy, Legislation by Erineus on February 27, 2009

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has thrown its weight behind the opposition to rehabilitating the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

In a pastoral statement, the CBCP urged Congress to “completely and irrevocably reject the opening of the nuclear plant as the most dangerous and expensive way to generate electricity.”

The statement was issued by the CBCP president, Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo.

“Multiple risks and the possibility of corruption outweigh dreamed benefits. We recommend with other anti-BNPP congressmen and the Greenpeace Forum that the mothballed facility in Morong, Bataan, be dismantled as its revival will be most hazardous to health and life of the people,” read the CBCP statement.

The power plant was built by the Marcos regime in response to the Middle East oil embargo in the 1970s.

The $2.3-billion project, designed to generate 621 megawatts of electricity, was scrapped by the Aquino administration in 1986.

The Diocese of Balanga headed by Bishop Socrates Villegas earlier in the week staged a prayer rally against plans by some congressmen led by Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco to rehabilitate the nuclear plant to stave off an energy crisis.

The CBCP also strongly opposed the use of a coal-fired power plant as source of energy in Iloilo province and other parts of the country.

“We recommend the implementation of the approved bill on the use of renewable energy, such as solar, wind and water as safe sources of electricity,” the CBCP said.

No rush

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is in no rush to reactivate the nuclear power plant.

Malacañang Thursday said it would first await the study and series of consultations being done by the Department of Energy (DOE) before coming up with a firm position on whether to reopen the country’s only nuclear facility.

“The President will never compromise safety over speed,” Anthony Golez, deputy presidential spokesperson, told reporters in a briefing.

But Golez said that should the DOE study and consultations recommend reactivating the power plant, “then we would find no reason why we would have to delay.”

Asked if reopening the BNPP was a priority of Ms Arroyo, he said: “We know that her priority is that we should be energy-sufficient in the next few years.”

Golez said the government had “a lot of programs” to achieve this goal and that the BNPP was just one of them.

Last year, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said the government was seriously considering reopening the BNPP, noting that it had spent $2.3 billion to build the facility, which had generated not a kilowatt of electricity.

Rehabilitation cost

Reyes said a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had checked the facility and had pegged rehabilitation cost at $800 million for at least five years.

If it becomes operational, the BNPP will be one of the most dangerous nuclear power plants in the world, Greenpeace said Thursday.

The group said the BNPP, which has a light water reactor made by Westinghouse, did not conform to the current safety standards of the IAEA.

Outdated

Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigns Manager for the Philippines, said the design of the BNPP was not only outdated but also faulty.

The BNPP’s compliance to IAEA nuclear plant construction and site selection protocols were already in doubt even before the BNPP was finished, Baconguis said.

Tessa de Ryck, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Nuclear campaigner, also said the BNPP was never evaluated according to standards of the IAEA which were raised after the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown.

The standard for nuclear reactors is “Generation 3,” which has double containment for its reactor and passive safety systems, according to De Ryck. The BNPP has a “Generation 2” reactor.

“We cannot be sure whether the BNPP can be upgraded to meet current reactor standards,” De Ryck said.

She said Westinghouse reactors were “breaking down with alarming regularity” because of design defects, including cracks in the main steam turbines, deterioration of the steam generator tube, and the reactor pressure valve turning brittle.

De Ryck also cited problems of other nuclear plants designed by Westinghouse and similar to the BNPP in Brazil and South Korea, which were plagued by outages and leakages of radioactive water.

Study by experts

A study commissioned by the Senate ad hoc committee on the BNPP and the Presidential Commission on the Philippine Nuclear Power Plant found the nuclear plant defective.

Environmentalist Nicanor Perlas, a technical consultant to the study, said that the study showed that the BNPP could not be operated safely because of the defective quality assurance program.

Perlas, who was not allowed to discuss the study’s contents at the hearing in the House appropriations committee on Wednesday, said in a statement that the study was completed during the term of President Corazon Aquino. It cost $9.5 million and was conducted by 50 nuclear experts.

40,000 defects

Perlas said the team found 40,000 defects and that it would cost $1.2 billion to $1.54 billion in 1990 rates to repair the plant. The repairs would take six and a half years.

Should the repairs be conducted, there was no guarantee that the BNPP would be safely operated because the quality assurance program was so problematic that the plant’s safety may never be established, Perlas said.

He also said James Keppler, a former official of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the review team found “pervasive and significant” defects in the plant’s design, construction, quality assurance and start-up testing.

“The identified deficiencies are so pervasive and severe that the plant cannot be expected to operate safely and without undue risk to public health and safety,” he quoted Keppler as saying.

Where’s the study?

Walden Bello, president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, said he was appalled that those pushing for the reopening of the BNPP seemed to be unaware of studies that thumbed down the facility’s operation.

Cojuangco said he had made several attempts to get hold of the study that Perlas was referring to, but added no one had so far been able to produce one.

He asked Perlas to give the title of the study and inform the committee where it could be obtained. Reports from Dona Pazzibugan, Alcuin Papa Christian V. Esguerra and Leila B. Salaverria

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:20:00 02/27/2009

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20090227-191285/CBCP-rejects-nuclear-power-plant-revival

Countries turn to resource-efficient, less-carbon-emitting technologies

Posted in DOE, Energy, Environment by Erineus on February 18, 2009

More countries are turning to more resource-efficient, less carbon-emitting, and less water-consuming systems as compelled by a global effort to mitigate the impact of predicted increasing temperature.

A Year Book released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) noted that an international consciousness on global warming over the last decade has caused a shift to more environment-friendly practices in the use of resources.

In construction, at least 10 percent of domestic construction work has already moved up to resource-efficient technologies as reported by the McGraw-Hill Construction Analytics.

“The United Kingdom for example has launched a voluntary industry agreement aimed at cutting by half (by 12.5 million tons) in 2012 the amount of construction waste going to landfill. It could recover materials worth an estimated billion,” UNEP reported.

Governments have already introduced programs that eliminate carbon emission in construction of buildings. These include Canada, France, and the UK where certain buildings are being designed to be energy neutral.

Instead of using fossil fuel-based energy, such structures make use of solar and combined heat and power systems enough to supply electricity need of these buildings.

While there are about 880 million people internationally that do not have enough access to clean water and 2.5 billion lack proper sanitation, efforts to cut water consumption in various sectors have been noted.

From chemical means of treating pulp (used for paper), a paper mill in Finland has turned to the use of thermo-mechanical ways of treating pulp, and has also constructed a biological wastewater treatment facility that enables water reuse. This generates savings in water use by up to 90 percent.

In India, the use of zinc in synthetic fiber for textile manufacturing is cutting water use by 80 percent of a fabric producer from its former use of aluminum in textile production. This Indian textile company now channels clean water for irrigation in neighboring farms.

A sugarcane manufacturing system in Mexico now cuts water use by 90 percent through the separation of process water from sewage water. In Sao Paolo, Brazil, a Spanish construction firm managing a 300-kilometer highway has enabled rainwater to replenish groundwater through its road system that channels rainwater to 250 dams that have a two million cubic meter-capacity.

With this global consciousness on reversing climate change’s effects, UNEP noted an increasing ice cover in the Arctic Sea in 2008, although it is still minimal at just 10 percent more than in 2007.

“While 2008 saw 10 per cent more ice cover than in 2007, the lowest figure on record, it was still more than 30 per cent below the average for the past three decades.. (Year) 2008 had the second smallest area of Arctic sea-ice left following the summer thaw since satellite monitoring began in 1979,” noted the Year Book.

It is apparent that mere natural melting may not be the cause of the loss of ice sheets in Greenland at its 100 cubic kilometer per year ice sheet melting. This turning into water of the Greenland ice sheet can raise sea level by six meters, it was estimated.

These facts have been causing an alarm for environmentalists along with observations of the opening of the Northern Sea Route “along the Arctic Siberian coast.”

“The two passages have probably not been open simultaneously since before the last ice age some 100,000 years ago.”

Because of the many manifestations of climate change, the Year Book said that “urgent action is needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions, not least because some of the natural carbon storage systems or ‘sinks’ may be losing their absorption capacity raising the spectre of a runaway greenhouse effect.”

By Melody M. Aguiba
http://www.mb.com.ph/BSNS20090218148380.html

From greed to green

Posted in Business, Energy, Environment, Finance, Global Financial Crisis, Greed by Erineus on February 11, 2009

If there is a silver lining to the increasingly ominous specter of a global financial meltdown and the far-reaching implications of Great Depression-like scenarios, it should be the opportunity to move from “greed economics” toward a global green economy. Global capitalism as we know it has imploded with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns, Merrill Lynch and such other giant investment and insurance houses, and the future is frighteningly uncertain.

But if out of this mess the global economy is more decidedly weaned from the financial world’s propensity to “make money from the movement of money” (what, pray tell, do “derivative contracts” and other exotic futures instruments mean to the average citizen?) and shift it to the creation of new, real value — new technologies, innovative materials and industrial products that sustainably meet energy needs and address eco-efficiencies — then there is hope for economic renewal, and, indeed, a real chance to curb global warming. Jacques Attali, founding president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, would call it a “Global New Deal.”

Countries with powerful reserves — China, Russia and other oil-producing countries — could well finance “greener” infrastructure projects, especially in sustainable and renewable energy, in the developing world to be built among others, by leading American companies. This would ignite broad growth in the “real economy” of actual production and human invention, argues Attali, who recently wrote the trenchant book “A Brief History of the Future.”

It is time leaders took the Herculean challenge of restoring balance in the larger economy and the underlying factors of ecology with the “urgency of now.” The $700-billion bailout of Wall Street is touted by the Bush government as “pivotal for Main Street jobs and homes.” But as several scientists would propound, such a bailout sum — or a fraction of it — will go a long way in “bailing out nature.”

Just think what wonders a hundred billion dollars can do to repair damaged ecosystems, restore biodiversity loss, curb pollution, support technological innovations and renewable energy use, and put in place mitigation measures for climate change — especially in the vulnerable regions of the developing world. Such environmental threats to human health, food security and continued access to clean water, after all, are inextricably tied to poverty indices and the incapacity of millions around the world to meet basic needs and attain higher standards of living.

The contradictions of global capitalism have led to the crisis of overproduction, or as social scientists would have it, “overaccumulation” and “overcapacity” — the buildup of “tremendous productive capacity that outruns a population’s capacity to consume,” given widespread poverty and inequalities around the world that limit purchasing power and reduce overall profitability. Moreover, the financial economy of unbridled speculation or “squeezing value out of already created value,” as sociologist Walden Bello would describe it succinctly [Read Bello’s column], has only exacerbated volatilities in the world economy, such as crippling oil and food price crises; and have ultimately added to the ruin of the earth’s vital life-support systems of fresh water, clean air, the seas, forests and land.

In the wake of the largest financial collapse since 1929, this crisis should perforce move economic planning and activity toward what environmental/eco-efficiency advocates Dan Esty and Andrew Winston refer to in their book “Green to Gold”: the locating of sustainability and new green technologies at the center of business strategy and government policy. The future of humanity surely depends no less on how society embarks on a sustainable track with regard to both energy needs and environmental requirements.

This requires nothing short of folding environmental stewardship into corporate culture and the running of businesses. This likewise calls for increased and more effective global governance mechanisms and, yes, supranational responses. By necessity, governments and civil society actors will have to take larger roles, and what may have been a heretofore near-absolute faith in the self-correcting nature of free markets will require serious revisiting.

These interventions will have to come in various forms — whether in terms of clear country and regional targets for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals or the accountability and commitments of nation-states and governments in global stewardship instruments like the Kyoto Protocol, among others. The world’s economies and the world’s six billion inhabitants deserve no less.

Only then will new social contracts emerge, or a Global New Deal forged, with greed economics supplanted by a global green economy that drives long-term growth … and heals a battered planet.

Neric Acosta was Liberal Party congressman of Bukidnon province from 1998 to 2007 and principal author of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act; he is now a professor at the Asian Institute of Management.

By Neric Acosta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:39:00 10/04/2008

Public to pay for BNPP revival—solons

Posted in DOE, Energy, Social Issues/Concerns by Erineus on February 11, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – The public will partly shoulder the cost of reviving the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) that is being pushed at the House of Representatives as an alternative and cheaper source of energy for the country.

House Bill 4631 or the “Bataan Nuclear Power Plant Commissioning Act of 2008″, authored by Representative Mark Cojuangco, intends to raise as much as $1 billion, to be sourced from the 10-centavo per kilowatt hour surcharge of the total electric power generated and which would be collected from consumers and international or domestic loans.

On Tuesday’s hearing at the House of Representatives, members of the committee on appropriation engaged anew in debates on the funding for the plant’s rehabilitation, decommissioning, and commercial operation.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman questioned why funds should be sourced from the General Appropriations Act, or the annual budget, to be able to operate the plant again.

Cojuangco agreed to delete that contentious portion, but maintained that Section 22 of the bill, which provides the 10 centavos surcharge and the loans, should stay.

“Section 22 is still unacceptable because of the surcharge and the international and domestic loan agreements. The surcharge will be levied to consumers even before the plant starts running. … We heard from the Department of Finance that the government is still financing for the principal and interest of the BNPP . . . it’s not even fully paid for. . . . So it would be like throwing good money after bad,” Akbayan partylist Representative Risa Hontiveros told the committee.

Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño said removing the section of the source of the funding would be “deceptive and misleading” since it would still be the government that would impose the 10-centavo surcharge.

And when government borrows, Casiño said that payments would be made through automatic appropriations, which would, in effect, mean getting the money from the annual budget.

Cojuangco countered that having the plant as a source of energy would save the public P2 per kilowatt hour. And shelling out a measly 10 centavos per kilowatt hour would make the consumers owners of the plant.

With the P2 per kilowatt hour savings, the consumers will save at least P9 billion annually, Cojuangco added.

The committee will hold another hearing to vote on the “appropriation language” of the bill, but Hontiveros vowed to block it, saying the revival of the plant will need further study.

Pope against nuke for power

Posted in DOE, Energy, Graft and Corruption, Social Issues/Concerns by Erineus on February 11, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—It appears the pope and another ranking Vatican official were misquoted on the use of nuclear energy by a local politician.

Pope Benedict XVI supports the use of nuclear energy but only for improving the medical field and helping the poor but not for generating electricity, Balanga Bishop Socrates Villegas said Tuesday.

In an e-mail to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Villegas refuted Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco’s claim the Pope and Renato Cardinal Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, supported the use of nuclear energy to produce electricity.

“This is not about nuclear power for electricity generation but nuclear science to promote medicine and help the poor and the sick,” Villegas said.

The bishop highlighted the part of the Pope’s statement made in July 2007 where he said “to support the use of peaceful and safe nuclear technology for authentic development, respecting the environment and ever mindful of the most disadvantaged populations, is always more present and urgent.”

“The statement is not about nuclear power plants but nuclear science for the benefit of medicine. The perennial question about storage and disposal of nuclear waste is still unresolved and poses a threat to the environment which the Pope warns about,” Villegas said.

Vatican statements

Cojuangco is campaigning to have the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant opened and has a bill pending in Congress to do just that.

Villegas, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz and Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo have condemned the plan.

On Monday, Cojuangco visited the Inquirer offices and, quoting Pope Benedict on the 50th anniversary of the International Atomic Energy Agency in July 2007, said the Vatican fully approved and supported the IAEA’s mandate “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.”

The lawmaker also quoted from Cardinal Martino’s statement which followed the Pope’s message: “Nuclear power could be part of a balanced energy mix alongside forms of clean energy. With maximum safety requirements in place for people and the environment and with a ban in place on the hostile use of nuclear energy, why should the peaceful use of nuclear technology be barred?”

Using the statements from the Vatican, Cojuangco said he was able to convince Cruz (but not Villegas as earlier reported) to be open to the possibility of having the BNPP put into operation.

Villegas said Cardinal Martino’s statement was made in the context of the situation in Italy and not in the Philippines.

“The commendation of nuclear power was based on two premises: First, that maximum safety requirements are in place and, second, that the ban on the hostile use of nuclear energy be in place. Is the first premise present in the Bataan nuclear power plant? Geologists and nuclear experts say otherwise,” Villegas said.

“This comment was made in the context of Italy. The Philippine geological context is certainly very different. The corruption situation in the Philippines is so bad that corrupt politicians are very likely to make money again from the rehabilitation,” he said.

By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:03:00 02/11/2009

Shift to CFLs, avert 2nd BNPP disaster

Posted in DOE, Energy, Environment, Social Issues/Concerns by Erineus on February 11, 2009

Recent environmental disasters around the world have only succeeded in driving home the urgency of addressing climate change and global warming — and the food security problem in their wake. Note the rampaging floods in Australia’s northeast and the killer bush fires in the south, the severe drought in central China and the snowstorms that recently battered the United Kingdom. These natural calamities are being blamed on climate change.

In an interview we taped for radio dzRH this Sunday at 8 p.m., Presidential Adviser on Global Warming and Climate Change Heherson Alvarez stressed that increasingly severe natural disasters and the see-sawing of oil prices make it more imperative than ever to develop clean, renewable energy sources. But he also pointed out a most encouraging development: the successful founding conference and first session of the preparatory commission of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Bonn, with the Philippines as one of the signatories.

After four years of global negotiations led by Germany, world leaders finally agreed to create this new international agency to push the development and use of renewable, climate and resource-friendly technologies throughout the world, such as wind, solar, hydropower and biomass energy. IRENA will act as a reliable advisor and partner for its members, networking closely with them, in the realization that, to quote Germany’s Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, “only with global structures can the world achieve secure and sustainable energy supply.”

* * *

Alvarez says Germany comes with good credentials to lead these efforts, and the Philippines, which is now being tempted to flirt not only with nuclear energy as a concept but with operating the defect-riddled “Monster of Morong,” could learn a lot from it. He notes that Germany is the world’s biggest user of wind energy, with 18,000 installed wind turbines contributing 6 percent to its total electric power.

Germany also accounts for 39 percent of the world’s total power from wind energy. It’s surpassing even the US in terms of producing power from renewable sources and is fast closing in on Japan as a leader in the use of solar power as well. Together, wind and solar energy provide more than 10 percent of Germany’s electricity and this is expected to double by 2020.

What’s good for developing countries like the Philippines to remember is that, as presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain repeatedly stressed in their campaign, there are plentiful jobs in these new energy forms. In Germany 60,000 people are employed in the design and manufacture of equipment for wind and solar energy.

* * *

Alvarez joined the delegation led by Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, armed with Republic Act 9513, the Renewable Energy Act, signed last month by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and said to be the most comprehensive renewable energy law in Southeast Asia. It aims to accelerate the exploration and development of renewable energy sources.

Right now, there’s the Bangui Bay Project in Ilocos Sur province, the first commercial capacity wind farm not just in the Philippines but in Southeast Asia, with a 33 megawatt-capacity equivalent to the reduction of 62,951 tons of greenhouse emission gases per year. Moreover, the Philippine delegation carried President Arroyo’s support for an 80-percent reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, first expounded by Alvarez at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan last December.

* * *

For the Philippines, the founding of IRENA is timely. As Alvarez puts it, “Hopefully it would draw us away from the temptation of using ‘Star Trek’-like technologies’ like nuclear power, and develop instead alternative energy sources of which we have a lot.” Speaking of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), which a group of House members wants to operate without considering its state of unfitness, Alvarez opines that if the nation were to shift to CFL bulbs for light, which is a $31-million project now being implemented by the Department of Energy through a loan from the Asian Development Bank, about 500 megawatts of electricity would be saved each year, which is nearly equal to the BNPP’s capacity, but without the problems of site dangers, expensive fuel, waste disposal, decommissioning, etc. I suggest that Alvarez begin his campaign for renewable energy in homes, schools, offices, civic clubs and the media with the punch-line: “A shift to CFLs helps avert BNPP’s second disaster. “

* * *

Last Tuesday, I wrote about the Cebu-based Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WIL) which has undertaken the “aesthetic enhancement” of the Cebu City landscape. Their major project is to clean up and restore Colon Street, the country’s oldest street, founded by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565. Networking with the old families in Colon, WIL put up 52 historical markers that are now part of its “Heritage Walking Tour,” at a cost of P15,000 per marker with lamppost.

An example is the marker in front of Mariano Albao Cuenco’s residence, Imprenta Rosario, which details how he founded the Cuenco newspaper dynasty with his “Ang Camatuoran” (The Truth). With Mariano’s early death in 1909, his widow, Doña Remedios Diosomito Cuenco, took over the family printing press on the ground floor of their Sanciangco Street residence and reared children who became publishers in their own right: the future Archbishop Jose Ma. Cuenco, the future Sen. Mariano Jesus Cuenco and Rep. Miguel Cuenco. From this clan also sprang Cebu City Rep. Antonio Cuenco.

Intramuros could also use similar markers memorializing the lives and achievements of many illustrious families who resided in the Walled City, never mind if World War II destroyed virtually all their homes.

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:51:00 02/12/2009