BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – A Capitol consultant and a business leader here have pointed to food shortage and a possible rise in prices as among the issues that must be looked into with the planned construction of a solar power plant in Calatrava town.
Frank Carbon, executive director of the local business chamber, told DNX the province “more than enough” energy farms.
“Do not convert agricultural lands that can be planted with food,” he said and pointed out that it can lead to the inflation of prices since there is a shortage of land that produces food.
He also added that the agriculture sector employs more people than the planned solar farm.
Former Governor Rafael Coscolluela, on the other hand, said even if the Aboitiz-owned farm expected to produce 137 megawatts of power does operate, “there’s no assurance that their power will be utilized here,” Coscolluela said.
He also pointed out several concerns like the lack of storage and intermittent availability of power since they cannot be included in the selection process for baseload power of distribution utilities.
He added, however, that he has yet to meet with the representatives from Aboitiz Power Corporation to understand the “bigger picture.”
He added that he will ask the firm if they can “adapt” to new technologies that elevates the panels which allows the land to be planted with high value crops to reduce “loss of agricultural land.”
Anastacio H. Nuñez III, the Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator in the town, also told DNX that its Sangguniang Bayan (SB) has already passed an ordinance to reclassify and to rezone the land in San Isidro village into an industrial area, since it is now classified as agricultural,
A power plant can only be constructed within an industrial area.
He also added that Aboitiz Power Corporation has applied for an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) with the Department of Environment and National Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR), and has tapped a consultant to work on it.
The farm located at San Isidro in the town will be leased from the Valmayor family for 25 years and is expected to produce 137 megawatts of energy.
There are already several solar farms in the province, among them Helios Solar Energy in Cadiz City that produces 132.5 megawatts, and Citicor Power in Silay City that generates 25 megawatts.