BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
San Carlos Bishop Gerry Alminaza yesterday welcomed the affirmation made by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson on his commitment in advancing renewable energy (RE) in Negros Occidental, through encouraging the development of means to harness energy sources such as the sun and wind.
Responding to a statement delivered by Alminaza in a House Committee on Energy meeting last week, which tackled the observed rise of electricity rates in electric cooperatives in Negros and Iloilo, Gov. Lacson said he “believe[s] that renewable energy will help bring down the cost of power in Negros in the long term.”
“It is assuring to hear from the head of our provincial government that Negros Occidental will seek to secure a future powered by clean energy that genuinely benefits its residents, especially at a time when the prices of our electricity and fuel soar and as the climate emergency we face keeps getting worse, just like what global leaders are discussing now at the climate summit in the United Kingdom,” Alminaza said.
Alminaza also serves as a convenor of REpower Negros, a broad civil society organization composed of the youth, church, and consumer-led movement advancing renewable energy in the island.
The city of San Carlos, where Lacson previously served as the mayor, is now recognized as an RE hub not just in the Philippines but also in Southeast Asia, the prelate said.
We hope this direction can be consistently followed both in terms of the kind of energy Negros produces and the kind of energy we contract, because right now our homes are still powered mostly by costly and dirty fossil fuel plants from outside the island,” Alminaza added.
Alminaza, a staunch advocate for the environment and against destructive energy from fossil fuels, said he is hopeful Gov. Lacson’s commitment will also translate to protecting Negros and its people from the threat of fossil fuel development.
On the other hand, Alminaza said that San Carlos City, which was earlier identified as the site of a coal-fired power plant now turned it into a fossil gas project of San Miguel Corporation (SMC).
Many say ‘natural’ or fossil gas is a clean energy source, but it is very clear that, like coal and all other fossil fuels, it brings harm to our already degrading environment and risks exacerbating climate change, he added.
We look to our local government to back Negrosanons up in the fight against gas, and look forward to also being able to engage SMC towards working with the people instead in the journey to sustainably repower Negros,” Alminaza said.*