Island-based power source needed now

WE DID NOT INVENT this only solution to the crippling power outages punishing the province currently (and in some dates in the past)-an ISLAND-BASED POWER SOURCE in Bohol ASAP. 

It was the NGPC (National Grid Power Corporation) -ages ago- who made this recommendation. It was carved in stone, no ifs and buts.

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Let’s digress. There are four characteristics of the power supplier that Bohol needs. (A ) Availability and security of supply which is a primary requirement that almost goes without saying. (B) Reliability has something to do with the business track record of the proponent, particularly in its expertise in power-related projects. (C) Resilience or the ability to withstand the challenges of climate change. 

And (D) Affordability -because that eventually impacts the competitiveness of our products and services and the ability of the common folk to live decent lives.

We venture to add the fifth (E) -that is” speed in erecting the power facility” -assuming it has all the four other characteristics described above. 

These are clear-cut scientific, business-like sine qua nons and we hope no political bullshit gets in the way -for the good of our people and ourselves.

The Leyte quake  (6.5 magnitude)  last week had just made this an ultra-urgent matter to act upon. 

Perhaps, we were too overconfident that geologically – the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that ripped Bohol in October in 2013 (wherein we were in total darkness until nearing Christmas) would not happen again in the next 100 years.

We always seem to forget that our figurative power umbilical cord is tied up enormously to the geothermal mines in Ormoc City which is not far from the Jaro where the epicenter of the 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit last week. 

There went “kaput” once again Bohol’s 70% source of power (Leyte interconnection)  with the smaller diesel and hydropower plants too puny to muster coverage of the province’s total power demand. This has crippled once again Bohol’s trade, industry, and governance. 

Maybe if we are too high above riding on our magnificent horses- let us be more graphic. 

A lowly tricycle driver, for instance,  cannot be contacted from his low-batt cell phone (cannot charge without power)  to be informed that his elderly father is gravely ill and needed immediate oxygen source.  Can we internalize this story and feel what tragedy there can be multiplied into other stories in a community sans electricity?

Ladies and gentleman, let’s be serious with this. This is a mammoth problem. Because by the mid-year next year 2018- the  P7.8-Billion New Bohol (Panglao) Airport will open its red carpet to various direct international flights. 

And the P600-Million Malinao Dam facilities could be up for commercial use.

Those two giant projects alone will magnify the demand side situation of the power equation while the supply side remains stagnant. It is a horrible proposition. To say nothing about what our new daily Korean visitors at the city airport will have to say about our “powerless environs”?

The Power Summits (after 2014) and the BEDAG (Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group)  had pointed to the interconnection (yet again) to the Cebu power source -as an interim solution. But that is to be operational only by the year 2020, two years after the giant airport hums with business gusto. Timely?

But then,  it will also be interconnected to Cebu (like Leyte) which merely transfers the problem source (inherent in interconnectivity) from one province to another. Or are we wrong to say this?

Which brings us back to the quick solution to entertaining and approving immediately the “best bidder” on the land-based power suppliers starting this August.  Who knows with new technology, a bidder with all the (four) characteristics above plus the (fifth) “speed in the delivery” attribute will rise from this rubble?

Remember, necessity is the mother of invention. There must be some company in that long list of 15 interested suppliers in coal, solar, wind, hydro and the like who can bring the project up to speed to address the pressing contingency.

Likewise, some years ago, Bohol was bruited by the national government to be one of the 8 provinces wherein a power plant powered by the burning of dried rice husks will be constructed.  One plant was capable of producing up to 5 Megawatts of power.  What happened? Buried under bureaucracy or other rival power suppliers?

Sure- there are stop-gap measures within reach spoken about in the inner sanctums of our policy-and-lawmakers: temporary use of the city Diesel Power Plant and .or the use of the standby barges reportedly available in both Mactan Cebu and Davao ports. It has partly solved the city power woes and resulted  in some power rationing in Boheco I areas but those in Boheco II are totally without redemption yet.  

And at what added price (affordability) will consumers and business have to burden their backs with in exchange for these (availability and reliability?) of standby sources?

Whether the Leyte interconnecting lines to their mines are repaired in days or weeks is really a side issue.  The real question is when will this island-province (now in the so-called cusp of a giant leap forward in development) finally have a handle on the source of power, once and for all?

Infrastructure like roads, ports, communication facilities, power, and water are necessary ingredients for a community to really move forward economically. 

Let it not be said, once again, to investors to “Come to Bohol and Be Merry” while we languish in the report card when it comes to basic infrastructure like power.

That is certainly us becoming an adherent to a failed experiment recognized since time immemorial:   that of putting the cart before the horse. Nothing moves, in this case.

We enjoin all those in the private sector to lend their brains and connection to the government in order to hasten the erection of a land-based power facility in Bohol as soon as we can.  

Nothing could be more urgent than that, now that we have secured our peace and order situation.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com



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