Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd is looking into how foreign governments might be able to help the Philippines speed up the decommissioning and repurposing of its coal-fired power plants, particularly where foreign companies have a significant stake in their continued operation, according to the Department of Finance (DoF).
In a statement on Monday, the DoF said Dominguez discussed the prospect of foreign governments buying out the shares of their nationals who own significant stakes in companies that operate coal-fired power plants in the Philippines.
He added that the proceeds from the proposed buyout could be donated to help fund the finance vehicle created for the Philippines under the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM) initiative, which aims to accelerate Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines' transition from coal to clean energy.
"If we can get the foreign governments to buy out those shareholders and donate the shares of that company to a government — to our government —or to a group, including ADB and other agencies, we can actually shut down that plant. And that foreign government would actually be making a contribution to reducing a coal-fired power plant," Domingez was quoted as saying at a recent Green Finance Session co-hosted by TIME Magazine Singapore and the Finance department in Glasgow, Scotland.
The DoF said the TIME panel discussion was one of the side events during the recently finished 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow.
It said Dominguez added that employees working at coal-fired plants scheduled for decommissioning will be retrained to work on other energy initiatives.
For example, the Finance chief mentioned a coal plant in Mindanao that is scheduled for deactivation as part of the Philippines-ADB partnership created through the new ETM facility.
"First of all, there are not a lot of people actually working in that particular coal-fired power plant, or in any coal-fired power plant. So, it's very easy to retrain them to do other projects," he emphasized.