Routine safety checks on floating power plants urged

July 12, 2020

TO avert future oil spills like the one that spoiled Iloilo City’s coastline, a House leader on Sunday called for “routine safety checks” on all floating power plants deployed by private electricity producers.

“The Department of Energy and the Philippine Coast Guard should perform extensive and periodic safety checks on all power barges, many
of which are rather old and rundown,” said Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, one-time Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Many of the power barges – including the vessel that accidentally discharged some 268,000 liters of heavy fuel into the waters of Iloilo Strait – were actually acquired by private investors from the state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) years ago,” said Defensor, the chairman of the House committee on public accounts.

“We recognize the need for these highly mobile power stations to address recurring electricity shortages in some parts of the country,” Defensor said.

“However, these barged-mounted power plants have to be properly maintained and put under constant safety inspection, considering that they carry large volumes of potential environmental contaminants all the time,” Defensor pointed out.

AC Energy Corp. has three power barges, each with a generating capacity of 24 megawatts (MW), including the one at Barangay Barrio Obrero that caused the July 3 diesel spill in the waters off Iloilo.

Aboitiz Power Corp. runs six power barges with a combined generating capacity of 431 MW.

Two of the flat-bottomed boats are moored at Barangay San Roque, Maco, Davao De Oro and at Barangay Sta. Ana, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte.

The four others are anchored at the Navotas City Fish Port. Meanwhile, SPC Power Corp. operates a 32-MW power barge berthed at Barangay Tapal, Ubay, Bohol. Ryan Ponce Pacpaco