Clear of and true to its vision, Bohol now ordains the dignity of environment as a foremost consideration, alongside reliability and cost, in pursuing the province’s aggressive energy development program.
The policy was set in an ordinance approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) led by Board Member Abeleon Damalerio as acting presiding officer on Friday.
Prior to the landmark legislation, the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG) chaired by Gov. Edgar Chatto repeatedly asserted the same mantra in its discussions.
The BEDAG discussions also involved those done during the presentations of the proposals from the many interested power developers, which include the “dirty” coal technology users.
The three-consideration policy is now a legislation also after the BEDAG indorsed to the provincial board for a learned decision and guided enactment all the arguments against and for any coal-fueled power facility.
The BEDAG and provincial government have, thus, stood one in including environmental-friendliness to supply reliability and cost efficiency as the primary considerations of Bohol’s energy development agenda.
The anti-coal advocates expressed their fears and apprehensions of the gradual negative impacts of a coal power plant on not just Bohol environment but health and lives of the Boholanos as well.
They called the coal technology of generating electricity as “dirty, costly and deadly.”
Those in the energy industry said, though, that competition is lost if there is no coal technology, adding it can lead the developers of other power sources to dictate higher prices of electricity.
Besides, according to the power distribution utilities (DUs), they are mandated to provide resilient electricity with lest cost, which they said can only be provided by coal-fueled power facilities.
They said this is pursuant to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA Law.
TOUGH BUT SOFT
But the SP made the province’s standpoint clear in the ordinance “declaring” the tough policy with a soft heart for the environment.
Section 1 of the ordinance says it even more clearly: “The Provincial Government of Bohol hereby mandates that the following criteria be followed in the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the power DUs, with the assistance of the BEDAG, within our province: Environmental impact, as the most important, reliability, and cost.”
This is “in view of Bohol’s vision, mission and goals,” adds the ordinance authored by Board Member Romulo Cepedoza, chairman of the SP Committee on Environment.
The TOR will serve as a set of guidelines for the competitive selection process or bidding among the potential power development investors in Bohol.
Also, the ordinance sets the “four stages of selection process,” namely, “pre-qualification of the proponents; financial capacity and cost of power to the consumers; reliability of power supply to Bohol; and, most importantly, environmentally-safe technology consistent with Bohol’s Framework on Sustainable Development.”
ONE IN VISION
The SP, which is the province’s highest policy-making body, said in its legislation that the “BEDAG is united in moving towards a reliable, financially-reasonable, and environmentally-sound power sources within our province.”
It also cited the multi-sectoral group, led by the two dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church, which “reminded us of our vision, mission and goals.”
Bohol is envisioned as a “prime eco-cultural tourism destination with sound environmental management.”
The entire Bohol island has been declared by law, authored by Chatto himself when he was congressman, as an “eco-tourism zone.”