BNPP revival will only aggravate power crisis – NGO

Cusi: Chinese gov’t to help assess BNPP operations

Reviving the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) will not resolve the current energy crisis and give way for the rapid industrialization of the country, non-government organization (NGO) AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) said. 

“Reopening the BNPP in the framework of a liberalized energy industry will not serve its purpose of providing lower cost of electricity and it will not redound to industrialization,” AGHAM said in a statement. 

This follows President-elect Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s statement that he is in talks with South Korean experts about the possible revival of the 621-megawatt (MW) BNPP and that the country would need higher power supply to industrialize further following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

AGHAM insisted that the Philippines has enough power supply in the country, and power shortage is being used as a “justification for the recommissioning of the BNPP.”

Based on data from the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines, the country has enough power supply to meet the demand until September this year with the coincident supply at peak demand projected at 13,292MW. 

The Department of Energy also said that the country has enough power supply should power generating companies follow the approved maintenance schedules of its power plants. 

AGHAM added that reviving the BNPP would mean becoming dependent on uranium that will be sourced from other countries. 

“If we want energy sufficiency in the coming decades, we need to harness our own indigenous energy resources and move away from imported, dirty, and dangerous fuels such as coal and nuclear. The country has more than enough energy resources to satisfy our current and future energy needs,” the group said. 

AGHAM added that Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), which allowed private companies to build and operate power facilities has caused “unrelentless increase in the cost of electricity, unstable power supply, and further increase our dependency on imported fossil fuel such as coal.” 

The group added that the EPIRA has given power companies the “right to recover their capital and enjoy big profit by charging consumers.” 

“This will be the case if the refurbishment and operation of the  BNPP will be pursued. It will be an additional burden to consumers as all the prerequisite costs to operate the plant would be pass-on charges such as nuclear tax, recommissioning, and waste disposal costs, AGHAM said. 

Citing the feasibility study conducted by the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), the rehabilitation of the BNPP would cost around $1 billion. AGHAM stated that the country has already paid more than $2 billion for the construction of the plant’s reactor. 

“Taxpayers have paid $2.2 billion for an energy infrastructure that has never been used,” the NGO said. 

The BNPP was built during the regime of the president-elect’s father Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., but its operation was halted in 1986 by his late successor Corazon Aquino. The Institute of Climate and Sustainable Cities’ Alberto Dalusung III, who once served the elder Marcos, earlier said that nuclear power is not a flexible source of power for an archipelago like the Philippines. 

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian also expressed his opposition to reviving the BNPP, and would rather make use of small modular reactors as a “new and safer technology.”  

In related developments, the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) said that it is willing to procure power from the BNPP should it be revived for commercial operations. 

During its annual stockholders’ meeting, MERALCO President and CEO Atty. Ray Espinosa said that the company is considering “reasonably and competitively priced supply from generation companies – including the BNPP – if the same becomes operational. 

MERALCO had earlier said that it is open to tapping nuclear power sources to help address power supply shortages during demand peaks during the summer months.