THE FINANCE department is backing a plan to study the feasibility of tapping nuclear energy as a means of lowering electricity costs.
“I want to encourage [Energy Secretary Alfonso G.] Cusi to really study it well and we will support him as much as we can if its safe and if it makes economic sense,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters last week.
“That is something that we should consider if we want to bring down power rates. It might be a good investment (because some facilities are) already there,” he added.
Mr. Dominguez said that the government has settled all debt taken on to construct the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
The plant was built in 1976 by President Ferdinand E. Marcos at a cost of over $2 billion.
Construction was halted in 1986 after Mr. Marcos was ousted.
Mr. Dominguez said plants similar to BNPP have been safely operating for the past 40 years.
“It is probably the asset that we will use to lower the cost of electricity,” Mr. Dominguez said.
“We have to have all the safety measures, but I think it’s something that we should really consider,” he added.
The DoE completed the draft national policy on nuclear energy last year.
Mr. Dominguez noted that the government is currently in the process of rehabilitating the Agus-Pulangi Hydroelectric Power complex to also lower the cost of electricity, ahead of the expected depletion of the Malampaya gas field.
“We are also investing quite a bit of money, probably close to half a billion dollars, in refurbishing the Agus system. That currently is running at only 40% capacity. We will probably bring that up to something like 88.5% capacity. That should help lower the cost of electricity,” he said.
The project, which will be financed by China, is expected to begin construction in 2020, and completed by 2022. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan