Cost of Bataan nuke plant rehab set at $1-B

BusinessWorld

Posted at Feb 02 2010 02:26 AM | Updated as of Feb 02 2010 10:26 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Rehabilitating the moth-balled Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) will cost $1 billion, according to an estimate provided by Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) to National Power Corp. (Napocor).

"[The] estimate is $1 billion," Napocor President Froilan A. Tampinco said in a text message. "We are currently evaluating it prior to submission to the Napocor board."

A recommendation, he added could be submitted next month to the Napocor board.

Mr. Tampinco last December said a study declaring that the BNPP could be rehabilitated had been submitted by Kepco. He did not provide a cost estimate at that time, however.

The KEPCO study was undertaken early 2009.

Pangasinan Rep. Mark O. Cojuangco last year filed House Bill 4631 which seeks to rehabilitate the BNPP. Mr. Cojuangco yesterday said he was hoping to have the bill passed by second reading this week.

"There is a big potential to gain capital savings in running the BNPP, which could then help funding additional nuclear plants," Mr. Cojuangco said in a telephone interview.

An environmental group, however, said the funds which may be spent to rehabilitate the BNPP should instead be used for developing renewable energy (RE) projects.

"That should instead be redirected to RE projects, which is available now unlike nuclear which takes time to develop. And more so because now we have the RE law which provides various incentives for investors," said Mark Q. Dia, deputy campaign director of Greenpeace, in a separate phone interview.

"Until now we are not convinced that nuclear energy is the way for our country," Mr. Dia added.

The Department of Energy has said it would take 10 to 15 years to build up the necessary infrastructure for a nuclear program.

The BNPP, built from 1976 to 1984 for $2.3 billion, was moth-balled after the 1986 "People Power" revolution which overthrew the Marcos regime.

The plant, which would have put out 621 megawatts, is supposed to have over 4,000 defects. The country’s single biggest debt item, taxpayer money finally paid it off in 2007.

The 2007-2035 Philippine Energy Plan released by the Department of Energy states that the country -- a net energy importer -- must consider a renewed nuclear power program amid oil price volatility.