GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Nov. 28 The construction of the Alcantara-led coal power plant project in nearby Maasim, Sarangani has finally commenced over the weekend despite opposition from various groups.
Tomas Alcantara, chairman and president of Alsons Consolidated Resources (ACR), said they initially launched the first phase of the US$ 450 million coal-fired power plant project, which is targeted to go on stream by 2014.
On [full] completion, this plant will generate about 200 MW of power that will provide safe, reliable and affordable energy to the people of SOCSARGEN (South Cotabato, Sarangani and General Santos City) and the rest of Mindanao, Alcantara said.
Alcantara said that at least 500 people will be employed during the construction period, and around 150 when the plant goes on stream, with preference on local residents.
The power plant will employ modern and world-class equipment and technology to ensure minimal environmental impact, he said.
Religious, civil and militant organizations, and environmental groups have voiced strong opposition to the coal power plant on concerns over human health and the environment.
Last year, the opposition gained international flavor with the sailing of Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeaces advocacy ship, in Maasim town.
Alcantara said that as part of the companys commitment to protect and enrich the ecosystem of Sarangani Bay, they would continue restocking or dispersing various species of fish produced in the nurseries of an affiliate company.
"This is our effort to ensure the continued health of our waters and the protection of the livelihood of our fisherfolk who are dependent on our municipal waters," he said.
The newly created Sarangani Energy Corp. would pursue the coal power plant project, which was given the environmental compliance certificate by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2009.
Joseph Nocos, Conal Holdings Corp. vice president, said recently that the second phase of the coal power project would begin after an interval of 12 months from the completion of the first phase.
The first phase is slated for completion in 36 months or later in 2014, at a time when Mindanao is projected to have a supply shortfall, he said.
Conal Holdings is 60 percent owned by the publicly listed ACR and the rest held by the Electricity Generating Public Co. Ltd. (EGCO), Thailand's largest power producer.(PNA)