THE Department of Energy (DoE) is coordinating with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on controlling the electricity supply in the immediate vicinity of Taal volcano in case of a hazardous eruption.

They are identifying areas that need 24/7 electricity such as evacuation centers, local government command centers, and hospitals.

Energy undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentabella said that once an area is in lockdown, the energy sector will coordinate with the council on the suspension of electricity service and supply of downstream oil products in the concerned areas.

“Kailangan clear ang instructions and ’yung lines ng communication sa pagbabalik ng services o ng supply depende sa instructions ng council (There should be clear instruction and lines of communications in returning services or supply on the instructions of the council),” he said.

“So we will have a situation where evacuation centers will have to be supplied power or energy services, pero ’yung surrounding area niya wala (but not in the surrounding areas). This is to ensure that everyone, especially the people of Batangas and the other affected areas are safe.”

Mr. Fuentabella said that keeping lockdown areas supplied with electricity would be dangerous as people may be tempted to return home before it is safe to do so.

“Danger na nakikita namin pag binibigyan ng supply ng kuryente is bumabalik ang mga tao at di nasusunod sinasabi ng council. (The danger we see is if we supply electricity, people will go back and the council’s instructions will not be followed).”

Representatives from energy sectors said that while there are no power plants within the 14 kilometer high-risk zone, there are transmission and distribution lines within the zone.

National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) Assistant Vice-President for South Luzon Gerardo Torres said they have 44 towers in the lockdown areas.

The NGCP is currently removing ash and debris from its power lines to assure continued power supply in Luzon.

“Once na mabigyan ng clearance to penetrate these facilities (in the high-risk area), we can clean all the towers,” Mr. Torres said.

The DoE spoke with representatives of the energy sector on plans to secure power plants in the event of a hazardous eruption and to improve government communications in case of loss of signal.

“Nandiyan din po ang suporta ng petroleum group… para malaman ng mga nasa area on the ground kung ano ’yung mga bukas at saradong estasyon ng gasolina, diesel, kerosene. (The support of the petroleum group is also there, so those in the area will know which gas, diesel and kerosene stations are open or closed),” Mr. Fuentabella said. — Jenina P. Ibañez