By Myrna M. Velasco
Batangas City – Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has secured the go-signal of President Rodrigo Duterte to go ahead with the firming up of plans on the repowering of the mothballed 620-megawatt Bataan nuclear power plant.
“I asked for clearance that I proceed,” he said, when asked by media how he was able to convince the President to reverse his earlier stand on nuclear power strategy for the country, and primarily to revive the BNPP into final commercial operations.
“Once and for all, we have to put closure to this BNPP… it cannot just be there and spending millions of pesos – it’s either we convert it for our use or not, the property is just being wasted,” Cusi stressed.
On his ardent wish to really repower the BNPP, Cusi noted that “the President has spoken and after he has spoken I talked to him and made clarifications and sought clearance that I proceed to work for its implementation and full operation.”
He added “I’d like the BNPP to really operate, of course, there are different views and we are ready to listen to that.” Previous number crunching placed the cost of repowering the idled nuclear plant at $1.0 billion.
Cusi qualified that “he (Duterte) did not change his mind,” adding that “I explained to him what the country needs…at the department that’s our responsibility, we have to look at it as to what the future of the country is – because energy development is going nuclear.”
The scheme being considered by the Department on Energy (DOE) for BNPP getting on stream will either be government-to-government (GTG) partnership or private sector undertaking.
The strategic partner, which could either be private investor or state-run firm of other country, will do the retrofit as well as operations of the BNPP in case the final decision will be to have it rolled into commercial operations.
“Our government now does not have competence, our competence, our demand resource is not in that sector – we have to develop that,” he said.
The energy chief admitted that he was nonetheless cautioned on the safety and security concerns thrown against nuclear power, hence, they want that fleshed out in their ongoing studies.
“Right now, we are doing all the administrative papers and then the roadmap – Undersecretary (Donato) Marcos has all the details and everything, orders, plan, etc,” he said.