BULUSAN, Sorsogon, Dec. 29, 2014 – The local Church is all out in pushing for an information campaign that aims to educate the public on the impact of a geothermal plant proposed by the government to be constructed within the Bulusan Volcano Natural Park (BVNP), the province’s last forest reserve.

The townsfolk should be aware of the positive and negative effects of geothermal operation and to be at the forefront of opposition if it will harm the environment, said Fr. Nestor Benavides, St. James the Greater parish priest in an interview on Dec. 27.

Fr. Nestor Benavides stands in front of his parish, St. James the Greater parish after officiating a wedding on Dec. 27, 2014. (Photo: Oliver Samson)

Harnessing geothermal energy offers a number of advantages, Benavides said. Existing geothermal plants, like the one in Tiwi, Albay, however, showed that negative effects, including health hazards and destructions to environment, outweigh all favorable returns combined, he added.

‘Destructive effects’

The environment is connected with human life, he said. Its destruction means harm to life, including humans, animals, trees, and crops, noting that the BVNP is home to a plethora of flora and fauna in Sorsogon.

Summa Kumagai, Inc. (SKI), the company that probed the area for energy deposits, in a recent statement, however, said geothermal exploration and operation do not have destructive effects to environment.

Geothermal as renewable energy is one the safest and most reliable sources at this time to generate power, said Benjamin Monson SKI project manager.

Anti-geothermal groups in the province, however, dismissed these claims and continue to oppose the geothermal prospect, pointing out that the promised benefits of existing plants do not offset the negative effects of operations.

People are the church

Benavides clarified that the role of the church is to educate the people. The people, who are the church, should be at the frontline of the issue, he said.

The Department of Energy’s new contractor for the geothermal project in the area, after Aboitiz Power gave it up, is Basic Energy, which is preparing to construct facilities with the establishment of the caldera.

The DOE said in an earlier statement the government has to look for new sources of energy to meet the demand for electricity in the next 10 to 20 years; otherwise, power crisis may arise. (Oliver Samson/CBCPNews)