Bataan nuke plant conversion likely: DOE

Posted at 10/03/2011 3:48 PM | Updated as of 10/03/2011 6:22 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The government is likely to convert the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) into a coal-fired power facility, said Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.

Almendras said initial study conducted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is leaning towards converting the mothballed nuclear power plant into a  "coal-fired" plant.

If proven feasible, Almendras said the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) would conduct a bidding for the technology to be used in building the coal-run power plant.

However, the government will only bid out the operation and management of the new facility.  "The asset will be retained by the government," Almendras said.

The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) will decide the direction of the government's plan with the BNPP.

Meanwhile, Almendras admitted the development of nuclear energy would still be a "socio-political decision".  Earlier, the Aquino administration shelved plans to develop nuclear energy, after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan.

Almendras said the government has trimmed the budget for maintenance of the BNPP.

"We are in the process of downsizing it (National Power Corp.) Napocor's budget for BNPP's maintenance," he said.

All assets pertaining to the BNPP were transferred by Napocor to the National Government in 1986.  Despite this, Napocor continued to shoulder the expenses for the upkeep of mothballed  plant to the tune of P40 million to P50 million per year.

From 1986 to December 2010, the BNPP-related advances made by Napocor have reached P4.367 billion.