Green groups welcome SMC coal pull-out in San Carlos; decry fossil gas shift

Environmental groups and residents of Negros Occidental on Friday lauded the confirmation by San Miguel Corporation (SMC) that it will no longer be pursuing a proposed coal-fired power plant project in the province, but warned of fervent local resistance should it proceed with the plan to instead convert the project into a fossil gas, or natural gas, facility.

    San Carlos City in Negros Occidental was the site of the 300 MW coal project that will no longer push through.

    “Today, Negros gladly declares another win against coal – which is a win for our Common Home and for the future of generations to come. We are happy that we were able to protect Negrosanon’s history of two decades of resistance from many different coal projects that proponents tried to build within our shores, and that our province need not contribute to the detrimental impacts that coal still wreaks upon vulnerable communities and life systems all over the country,” said long-term clean energy advocate Bishop Gerry Alminaza.

    Alminaza serves as the Bishop of the Diocese of San Carlos, a city known for its many sustainable practices and belonging in the island dubbed as the Renewable Energy Capital of the Philippines.

    “We hope this is taken as a sign by other coal companies, supporters, and even financiers that coal’s glory really has come to an end,” he said.

    While the discontinuation of the plant as a coal project is welcome news, residents were dismayed that SMC intends to pursue a fossil gas project in the area instead.

    “We will not stand back and accept that gains in the fight against coal will be used to inflict on us similarly alarming impacts from another fossil fuel. We Negrosanons take pride in the beauty and clean environment that our island offers. We intend to keep it that way, and we will keep watch to ensure that Negros will continue moving on the path to 100% renewable energy,” said Jun Mojica, representative of green energy consortium REpower Negros.

“Fossil gas is not clean energy. It will not help us in the climate race, nor will it bring us closer to a sustainably powered future. The youth will continue fighting so that Negros would win against all threats of fossil fuels – be it coal or gas,” added Iza Mondia, youth representative of Fossil-Free Negros.

    The groups also dared SMC to be true to its sustainable energy commitments by fully ending its coal pipeline and aggressively jumping into the renewable energy bandwagon, with no stop over to fossil gas.

    “The steps away from coal that SMC took recently are welcome developments, but the company cannot keep contradicting its RE commitments by staying a key figure in both the country’s remaining planned coal fleet and massive fossil gas expansion,” commented Avril De Torres, Research, Policy, and Law Program Head of CEED.

PHOTO: San Carlos Directory