Rep. Mark Cojuangco of Pangasinan, sponsor of the bill that will rehabilitate for recommissioning the Bataan nuclear power plant (BNPP), claims that electricity from a rehabilitated BNPP will be cheaper, although he hasn’t done any real feasibility study on the economic and financial aspects of BNPP rehabilitation.
What he cites are figures from countries like France, where the main source of electricity is nuclear power and electricity costs are lower than other countries of Europe, the U.S., one of earliest pioneers in nuclear electricity, or India and China, who seem intent on expanding their nuclear generation capabilities.
What Cojuangco misses is that nuclear electricity appears cheap because of the huge government subsidies that nuclear R&D receives. For many countries, the civilian applications of nuclear power are secondary to their military applications. Governments set up nuclear plants because they want to have the Bomb, regardless of the cost. It is this strategic objective to become a nuclear power that justifies their huge subsidies to the nuclear industry.
Even if some local politicians secretly harbored an ambition to become the first ASEAN country with the Bomb, our Constitution prohibits such a thing. Thus, in our case, civilian nuclear applications must stand on their own, without any subsidy at all from the government. If it has to carry the full burden of costs for exclusively civilian applications, it is highly doubtful that nuclear electricity would be cheap. No one can say at this point, of course, how expensive or cheap BNPP electricity will be. That is precisely why economic and financial feasibility studies are necessary.
In fact, Japanese anti-nuclear activists have long been demanding the privatization of the electricity industry in Japan. Like us, Japan is also prohibited by its constitution from exploring military applications of nuclear power. Japanese activists know that if nuclear power plants in Japan were privatized and had to operate with no government subsidy, they will not be competitive in the electricity market and will soon be replaced by conventional plants.
Yet, without any economic or financial feasibility study to support his claims, Cojuangco continues to insist that a rehabilitated BNPP will bring the cost of electricity down.