Laoag City, Ilocos Norte: Local government officials have totally banned the use of coal with the passage of a provincial board resolution, making it the first province to phase out coal use to become a total renewable-energy consumer.
Sangguniang Panlalawigan Provincial Resolution 017-2016 authored by Board Member Mariano Marcos 2nd, environment committee chairman, declares Ilocos Norte as a “clean, green and coal-free province.”
“No office or instrumentality of the provincial government of Ilocos Norte shall issue any permit, authorization, endorsement or any expression of support to the development of coal projects in the province,” the resolution said.
The board encouraged all two cities and 21 towns of the province to refrain from issuing coal permits.
Such ban, said Sherwin de Vera, regional coordinator of the environment group Defend Ilocos, “is a positive move and merits commendation,” expressing support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy declaration against energy that favors dirty coal.
De Vera called on the provincial board to also pass resolutions against other fossil fuels for power generation.
Earlier, criticisms were leveled against wind energy projects in the towns of Burgo s and Bangui, over alleged violations of indigenous peoples rights where windmills were built and have since benefited local communities.
“We demand the immediate review of existing Memorandum of Agreements with affected communities,” de Vera said, explaining that “the review should ensure that energy ventures lower electricity rates and provide substantial benefits to communities where the facilities are located.”
Ilocos Norte is now generating around half of its power requirements from its solar, wind and hydroelectric-energy sources, making it the perhaps the country’s renewable energy hub.
With a 264-megawatt installed wind-energy capacity as of 2015, it is also dubbed as the wind-energy capital of the Philippines.
Since 2010, local government initiatives have paved the way for Ilocos Norte to become home to the 150-MW wind-power project of Energy Development Corp. (EDC), a unit of First Gen Corp., in Burgos town; the 81-MW Caparispisan wind station of Northern Luzon UPC Asia Corp.; and the 52-MW Bangui wind project of Northwind Power and Development Corporation.
The province has also become perhaps the country’s and Southeast Asia’s renewable-energy capital.
A 5-MW Agua Grande hydroelectric power plant in Pagudpud and solar farms, like the 20-MW solar-power facility of Soleq Philippines Inc. in Barangay Paguludan in Currimao and the 4.1-MW and 2.6-MW solar farms in Burgos of EDC are being developed.
The provincial board said, “The leadership of Ilocos Norte has consciously supported renewable-energy development not only because the province is endowed with the essential natural environment but also because it is the only way to promote the economic prosperity of present and future generations of Ilocanos that is friendly to the environment and is not harmful to the people’s health and well-being.”
“Renewable energy has also given the people of Ilocos Norte reason to be proud for significantly contributing to the reduction of carbon emissions that harm the environment and sadly render the country and the Filipinos among the most vulnerable in the world to the devastating effects of climate change,” the resolution added.
“[We] continue to shy away from energy developments using coal of any type because of its proven harmful effects to the environment, dreaded impact on climate change and menace to the health of the people.”