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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     5 November  2011

Cleaner coal power-the answer?
The development of cleaner coal power plants may be the answer to the Philippine’s looming power crisis in the next four years.

John Quirke, Meralco Power Generation Corp. senior vice president for technical development, said during an exclusive roundtable with The Manila Times on Friday that the country has one of the highest electricity rates in the world because of the lack of “modern and efficient” power plants. This problem could also lead to a power shortage in 2015 to 2016.

“Until there is a fresh gas find or stark change in how hydrocarbon is imported in the Philippines, you’re left with stark choice to build a clean coal power plant to meet base load generation needs of Luzon and the Philippines,” Quirke added.

A power crisis may send electricity rates higher and result in brownouts similar to what the country experienced in the 1990s, said Angelo Lantin, Meralco PowerGen senior vice president and head of commercial development.

Meralco PowerGen, a wholly-owned unit of Manila Electric Co., is one of the shareholders in Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. (RP Energy), which is building the country’s largest circulating fluidized bed coal plant with a capacity of 600 megawatts in Subic.

The total cost of the project, which will come on stream in 2015, will reach $ 1.28 billion.

While one of the targets of building the power plant is to bring down electricity prices, Meralco PowerGen officials said that would depend on various components such as engineering, procurement and construction costs and coal prices.

“We want to build a plant that will provide some protection against these increases in coal prices, make it as efficient as we can,” Quirke said.

“What we do promise to do though is there’ll be no mark-up for us on the price of coal. We will pass that to the consumers without marking it up to the point that we’re not the beneficiary of it at all,” he added.

Lantin said that the company is working hard to dispel the notion that coal plants are major pollutants, having conducted 10 dialogues in the last two months with communities in Zambales, Subic and Olongapo to address their concerns.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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