Earthquake-affected islands facing longer power blackout

Posted on July 13, 2017

THE TARGET date to bring partial power supply back to the earthquake-hit islands of Leyte, Samar and Bohol has been moved to July 19 from July 16, the Department of Energy (DoE) announced yesterday, citing a report from grid operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

Residents stand next to their collapsed house a day after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit the town of Tongonan, Leyte province, central Philippines on July 7, 2017. AFP
Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said based on a report from the NGCP on Wednesday morning, two damaged transformers were preventing the delivery of power to the three islands.

On July 6, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake occurred at 4:03 p.m., with epicenter around Jaro town in Leyte, but tremors were felt in most of the Visayas central islands.

Power supply in the islands of Panay, Negros and Cebu have also been affected by the facility damages and some areas continue to have rotational brownouts based on advisories by the electricity distributors.

Mr. Fuentebella said the damaged transformers were originally expected to be fixed on July 16, but this would not be possible, thus the new target date of July 19 given by NGCP.

By that date, however, only 40 megawatts (MW) of power can be supplied by sources coming from Luzon and Cebu, and the geothermal power plants operated by Energy Development Corp. in Leyte. This volume represents only 14% of the demand of the three islands, Mr. Fuentebella said.

He added that the distribution of the available power would be the call of NGCP, but the policy of the DoE is to first serve commercial areas. He said three million consumers are expected to be served in the quake-hit areas.

By July 31 to about Aug. 1, or three weeks from now, 160 MW could be transmitted because 120 MW would be added to the 40 MW or 55% of the demand of 291 MW, Mr. Fuentebella told reporters, partly in Filipino.

He said dismantled transformer facilities in Cebu would be transferred to the Ormoc substation to allow the transmission of the additional power capacity. -- Victor V. Saulon