BEHIND THE LINES: Killing blackouts PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 August 2014 14:31



SAN JOSE, CA. — Zamboanga’s industrial and commercial demand for steady power is growing as capital investment is soaring. Residential demand for electricity is also increasing as housing projects are surging, particularly in some east coast barangays. We really need cheap and constant power soon before the next blackout succubus cripples, as it did many times in the past, our city. Six to eight hours of rotating blackouts irritate us and cause our blood pressure to rise.

This month, our sources tell us, the Energy Regulatory Board will decide on the Power Supply Agreement (PSA) that the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative and the San Ramon Power, Inc. (SRPI) signed almost two years ago that will ensure steady electricity exclusively for Zamboanga for the next 25 years and beyond. When that happens, SRPI will start building a coal-fired power plant in San Ramon, west of Zamboanga. The enhancement program to make Zamcelco financially viable is on-going. Together with the conversion of the property on which the plant will rise from agriculture to industrial land within the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority and Freeport (Zamboecozone), construction of the power plant will immediately commence. Until it is fully operational in 2016 or early 2017, Zamboanga will have to brace up for power outages, a bane to our economy and a brunt that we have to contend with an enormous amount of equanimity. Patience is a virtue, right? The only way to kill the blackouts is the provision of sufficient electricity so we can live comfortably. The peevish feeling because of incessant blackouts will not go away until we have a power plant solely dedicated to Zamboanga running in full throttle.

As I pointed out earlier, coal is the leading fuel for generating power in the United States and China. In 2013, coal power accounted for 39 percent of America’s electricity production. That’s huge by any language. Republicans argue that coal keeps the economy growing because of job generation. Extensive researches are now being done to improve technology “to enable cost-effective, efficient and near-zero emissions coal-based power generation...”

In the Philippines, the Clean Air Act will make sure that mercury, acid gases and toxic metals released are within legal and environmental limits and within pollution-control standards. SRPI has illustrated in several public consultations with various groups in Zamboanga targeted at making people aware enough of the factors and benefits in coal-fired energy generation.

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What? Another kidnapping case in Labuan? That’s, I think, the third time in two years that a businessman/woman was snatched in that part of the city. We haven’t learned our lesson yet? Once again, the Crisis Management Committee headed by Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar, will converge to take appropriate measures on this pestering problem that has driven away investors all these years. In Iraq, the ISIS are killing their hostages for refusal of democratic governments to negotiate with the terrorists. An American journalist was beheaded last Thursday. More heads will be chopped off, the terrorists swear, unless the U.S. stops its airstrikes against the ISIS. That threat is real. That’s PBO’s problem. We have had our share of beheadings in the past by the Abu Sayyaf and other blood-thirsty terrorists. We have learned our lesson, I hope. I’m sure, ransom will be paid for the release of the latest kidnapping victim — for board and lodging. Hay, madre mia.

Yes, some businessmen I know are pulling up stakes. They are allegedly in the list of victims eyed by the bandits. One is closing down his hardware store. Most of the prominent families are thinking of resettling to either Manila or Cebu. That’s bad. Law enforcement agencies and politicians (who don’t want people to leave Zamboanga) should take a serious look at this problem. If it can happen in Labuan, it can happen in tourist havens like Palawan (as in the past) and Boracay, or even in the heart of Manila. Perhaps, we would require the help of American special forces to flush out the terrorists who have links with Al Qaeda and maybe ISIS. We have hosted the Americans since 1999. It’s about time they helped us.