Ph Senators In Conflict Over Nuclear Energy

Ph Senators In Conflict Over Nuclear Energy

Senator Risa Hontiveros disputed the proposal of Malacañang to pursue nuclear energy in the Philippines, as investments from the private sector in the United States have recently come in.

In a Manila Bulletin report, Hontiveros reiterated her opposition to nuclear energy as a solution to the country’s power problems, contrary to the Marcos administration’s view that it is a viable option to address the ongoing power outages across different regions of the country.

The senator stressed that nuclear energy should be considered only as a last resort to address power issues. Instead, clean and locally-sourced renewable energy (RE) should be given priority. Nonetheless, she expressed her readiness to support the latest inquiry on the continuous power outages across the country.

In addition, Hontiveros said that she is prepared to put forth resolutions and recommendations that would lower consumer electricity costs. These include reducing recoverable rates on the cost of capital or weighted average cost of capital (WACC), maximizing the use of the energy mix, doing away with the VAT on system losses, and funding the use of renewable energy in the social housing sector.

On the other hand, some senators have concurred that nuclear energy is a potential solution to power outages, but public safety and awareness must be heightened.

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go said the planned construction and operation of the nuclear power plant doesn’t only address the electricity problems but would also benefit the economy by attracting local and international investors, which in turn would lead to more job opportunities.

Go noted that, though it is a viable solution, raising public awareness about safety measures is crucial to addressing concerns and misconceptions surrounding the utilization of nuclear power. According to him, it is important to squash fear when nuclear energy is mentioned by putting safety precautions in place.

Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, also expressed his opinion that the government should explore nuclear power as it is a long-term solution and the country heavily relies on foreign sources for coal, saying no matter how controversial it is, we should also consider new technologies like small modular reactors (SMR) and generation IV nuclear reactors. 

During President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s official visit to the US, NuScale Power Corporation and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation expressed their interest in assisting with the provision of nuclear power in the country.

NuScale, a nuclear company based in Oregon, provides small modular reactors (SMRs) capable of producing up to 60 megawatts (MW) of power, while Ultra Safe offers micro modular reactors (MMRs) that use a special material to encapsulate the fuel.

Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual clarified that although the aforementioned nuclear companies expressed their willingness to assist, there are currently no contracts or tangible investments established yet.