I. Norte: PHL 1st coal-free province

ilocos-sentinel-copyLAOAG CITY, October 3 – The Sanggunang Panlalawigan of Ilocos Norte has approved recently a resolution declaring Ilocos Norte as first coal–free province in the country.

The SP made this move as all–out support to the national government’s commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) through the Conference of Parties 21 (COP21) to reduce carbon emissions by 70 percent from expected levels in 2030.

In its seventh regular sessions held on August 15, the SP unanimously approved Provincial Resolution No. 017-2016, authored by environment committee chairman SPm Mariano Marcos III, declaring Ilocos Norte as a “clean, green and coal-free province.”

The resolution, which was approved by Governor Imee Marcos on August 22, also sought the elimination of coal from the province’s power supply.

“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 SP encouraged all two cities and 21 municipalities of the province to refrain from issuing coal permits. It also makes Ilocos Norte the first province to phase out coal use and become a totally renewable energy consumer.

The resolution is supported by environmental advocacy groups, as well as the province’s largest electric companies.

With its solar, wind and hydroelectric energy sources, Ilocos Norte is already generating about 50 percent of its power requirement from clean or renewable energy.

Since 2010 local government initiatives have paved the way for Ilocos Norte to become home to the 150-megawatt (MW) wind-power project of Energy Development Corporation (EDC), a unit of First Gen Corp., in Burgos; 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.

With a 283-MW installed wind energy capacity as of 2015, Ilocos Norte has been dubbed as the undisputed wind energy capital of the Philippines.

The province is also emerging as the country’s if not Southeast Asia’s renewable energy capital with the further development of the 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.

“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,” the resolution said.

“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.

It also said the leadership of the province “continues to shy away from energy developments using coal of any type because of its proven harmful effects to the environment, dreaded impact to climate change, and menace to the health of the people.”(Freddie G. Lazaro/PIA-1)