Bohol-Cebu bridge ok’d; power shortage looms

Cebu-Bohol bridge border

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has approved the bridge project that will soon connect the island provinces of Bohol and Cebu.

Called the Bohol-Cebu Friendship Bridge (BCFB), the project had been endorsed to the Chinese government for funding when President Duterte visited China in October this year, according to Rep. Aris Aumentado.

After the Neda board approval, the project had been lined up for feasibility study and pre-engineering work, which could start as early as next year once the proposal is approved, Aumentado said.

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The study would determine whether the government would implement the project through build-operate-transfer, through public-private partnership or through concession loans.

The proposed bridge was dubbed as a “3-in-1” project because it could be used to bring water from Inabanga River in Bohol to Mactan Island in Cebu, through a pipeline attached to the bridge, and at the same time, bring in cheaper power from Cebu to Bohol.

The bridge will link Getafe town in Bohol and Cordova town on Mactan Island in Cebu. These towns are 17.5 km away from each other. 

Meanwhile, with the gigantic bridge project, development is expected to further boom in the province thereby exposing the province to a power shortage due to the increasing power requirements especially once after the new Bohol Airport in Panglao will be completed in 2018.

In order to address the impending power shortage, Gov. Edgar Chatto is firm to interconnect Bohol to Cebu and build a big Bohol-based power generation plant within the energy development program time frame.

The Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG) shared bold projection amid the current investment surge and anticipated growth in the future.

National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) Corella Substation head Engr. Joseph Junipher Sagaral disclosed the Cebu-Bohol interconnection will be in place in 2021.

Originally set for completion in 2022, the link can be done even much earlier in 2020 as the governor wants to abort the impending power shortage.

The Cebu-Bohol interconnection by submarine cable will transmit electricity from Sibonga in Cebu to Loon in Bohol, Sagaral said, as an alternative to the existing Leyte-Bohol interconnection

Equally vital is the establishment of the power generation facility right within Bohol island can also come first, even earlier than the interconnection from Cebu. 

The governor convened the BEDAG on Monday, evaluating and “shortlisting” the potential power developers who have strong interest in the energy program here.

The meeting was attended by Sagaral, Bohol Electric Cooperative I (BOHECO I) Manager Dino Nicolas Roxas, Boheco II Manager Eugene Tan, Bohol Light Company, Inc. (BLCI) General Manager Eulogio Signe, and Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) president Al Uy and Executive Vice President Argeo Melisimo, among others.

VARIOUS POWER

PROPONENTS

Three to five proponents already expressed intent to invest in power generation using coal and two others using liquefied natural gas. (LNG)

Their proposals are designed to meet the province’s base load requirement, according to industry key players here.

There are separate potential investors willing to put up hydro, wind or solar power facilities, but which can only serve peak load need because of limited generation output.

Although it can only produce minimal power, the abandoned Inabanga-Danao Cantakoy dam/hydro-power proposal “resurrected” as a possible solution to the power crisis while its potentials will be studied by experts from the University of the Philippines (UP).

While the capacity to generate power using renewable energy like solar can depend on the economics of the investor, its cost to the consumers is another factor to consider.

There are also proponents of biomass power plant, which is “not reliable for Bohol for the moment;” diesel power plant, “good for base load but costly;” clean-tech thermal modular power plant, “just for supplement” and also costly; and geothermal power plant, which has no energy source in Bohol unlike in Leyte.

BLACKOUT 
The more than 20-hour blackout in Bohol from 4:00 early morning last Saturday until early dawn Sunday was due to the energization of the new Ormoc-Maasin, Leyte 138kv line 2 for power transmission redundancy.

The line now gives the Leyte-Bohol interconnection a reserved “double” capacity which is beneficial to Bohol, especially during calamities or man-caused interventions which may suddenly cut the other transmission line.

The original 13-hour blackout schedule had been extended because of unforeseen technical adjustments until the new line went fully energized.

This had prompted a concerned Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), thru the manifestation of Board Member Tomas Abapo, Jr., to get update of the province’s energy development program thru the BEDAG.

Chatto suggested that during a scheduled power interruption, the NGCP or the concerned power distributor should automatically issue a supplemental advisory an hour or much earlier if it seems impossible to restore power on time.

       The governor also proposed to BEDAG to open a facebook account so that it can help power advisories on the social media.

Netizens can still access to internet using their cellular mobile phones during a brownout or blackout, the governor said.

NOT JUST RELY

ON LEYTE 
Chatto would want both the Cebu-Bohol interconnection and Bohol island-based power generation projects fast-tracked instead of just relying on the Leyte geothermal power source.

Abundant, reliable and “resilient” power supply condition is needed to accelerate development and growth- projected in a grander 12-year spatial Bohol development framework.

Chatto cited the current surge of investments alone which, according to Argeo Melisimo, can occur once the new airport in Panglao will  be operational in 2018.

The existing Tagbilaran City airport can be transformed into a special economic zone or information technology (IT) business park, plus the already identified growth centers and waterfront development.

An hour to the BEDAG meeting, Chatto, City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II and the BCCI, represented by Uy as president, inked the creation of the Enhanced Bohol Investment Promotion Program – Technical Working Committee (EBIPP-TWC).  

 The governor, whose executive order formed the committee, commended the city leadership for its pursuit of higher growth and asked all partners to continue to “imagine together, work together, and achieve together.”

The program is in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development – Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (USAID-SURGE) Project, represented by coordinator Linda Paredes. 

Chatto and Yap on the next day jointly received at the Governor’s Mansion visiting new USAID Mission Director Susan Brems, who vowed full support to Bohol’s development.

During a radio interview over Kiss 102.3 FM, Director Brems reiterated the commitment of USAID to help in the preparations of various projects in the province.

RDC REITERATES

FULL SUPPORT

In Cebu City on Friday, the Regional Development Council (RDC) again expressed full support by reiterating its strong call to the NGCP to speed up the Cebu-Bohol interconnection.

On the other hand, the preferred potential developers of the Bohol-based power plant will be required to attend another BEDAG meeting after the different proposals were evaluated and classified more clearly.

This specially pertains to the option for base load power generation using coal and liquefied natural gas, the latter’s operational sustainability and cost efficiency likewise needing to be assured.

The meeting will also be attended by the members of the provincial government’s UP Advisory Council and Department of Energy (DOE) experts on coal and liquefied natural gas power technologies.

The province would want to be surer of its policy direction thru learned proactive approaches, including how environmental concerns are to be addressed, affecting the long-term energy development program.

Chatto is firm to complete all processes, including the implementation stages for both the Bohol-Cebu link and land-based power plant, before the end of the local electric utilities’ bulk power supply contract with outside sources in 2023.

The Cebu-Bohol interconnection will encourage power developers to invest here because through it they can transmit and sell outside the province any excess electricity they can produce in Bohol. ( with a report from Ven rebo Arigo)

 



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