Chatto irked on blackouts; Cebu-Bohol power urged

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Chatto irked on blackouts; Cebu-Bohol power urged

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The soft spoken Gov. Edgar Chatto broke his usual diplomatic speech by lambasting the National Grid Corp, of the Phil. (NGCP) for an unannounced seven-hour blackout experienced in the entire province yesterday.

Ironically, the total blackout came barely 24 hours after a team led by Ricardo Lozano, NGCP Visayas met with the governor last Friday to assure the steady supply of power especially after the activation of their Line 2 to complement the operation of Line 1.

In fact, NGCP assured a “brownoutless Christmas” which the governor said such commitment was already broken when yesterday’s blackout plunged the province to become powerless for seven hours.

These blackouts are “destroying Bohol[‘s economy,” the governor stressed while he appealed to NGCP to fast track the realization of the Cebu-Bohol power interconnection. 

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This is the only actual solution in order to save Bohol from blackouts whenever the Leyte power source gets interrupted due to fault lines while awaiting for the long haul solution of having a land based power source within the province. In fact, Gov. Chatto will preside on Tuesday the meeting with investors for coal and natural gas under the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG).

He explained that this power sourcing within the province could be the solution only after about five years when the investors will be able to put up their power facilities. In the meantime, what is urgently needed is to tap the Cebu-Bohol power connection through submarine cables.

Gov Chatto told NGCP he is not questioning their power capacity. What is putting the province in great risk is the consistency of the service coming from the Leyte while there is no other alternate power source.

The Cebu-Bohol connection was originally set 2023. However, NGCP agreed to have the connection earlier by 2020. 

“Due to these unexpected blackouts, we need the Cebu-Bohol connection even before 2020,” the governor stressed. The present total power requirement of Bohol is 70 megawatts while the available power capacity from Leyte is 85 megawatts. 

“Present and future investors are worried.  Consumers are vocal in both regular and social media,” he lamented.

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The governor said Bohol, with the support of the Regional Development Council (RDC), once more appeals to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to fast-track the Cebu-Bohol power link.

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It must be rushed while awaiting the big land-based—or Bohol-island based—power generation facility now worked out with the interested power producers, Chatto stressed.

Yesterday’s island-wide blackout from 9:56am until power was restored at 10:31am— and again at 11:18am until the full power restoration at almost 6pm—occurred when the new Ormoc-Maasin 138kv Line 2 in Leyte tripped off.

“Three ground teams patrolled along the 114-kilometer line, specifically between power transmission structure numbers 180-220,” the NGCP said in one of its advisories.

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The NGCP had to use a chopper to find the specific line area causing the trip-off but it could not immediately fly over the area “because of the very windy condition” and it had to wait until the “weather would improve.”

Chatto has been clear and firm in his policy that Bohol should not rely on the Leyte power alone.

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This is even if the new second line provides transmission redundancy for continuous electricity supply to Bohol if the other line is affected by a calamity or man-made intervention.

Thus, the governor said, the Cebu-Bohol interconnection of power from Sibonga to Loon must be done as fast as possible as an alternate transmission system to the Leyte line.

The Cebu-Bohol power interconnection is not a stand-alone project because the establishment of the island-based power plant is at the same time a “must’ pursuant to the province’s long-term energy development program.

MUCH WITHIN

THE TIMEFRAME

The province is not running out of or against time in its energy development plan because its strategies and implementation period is still very much within the program time frame.  

Both the interconnection and island-based power generation are top agenda in the crucial meeting of the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG) on Tuesday, December 20.

Highly-technical officials from the Department of Energy (DOE) and Boholano experts who comprise the University of the Philippines (UP) Advisory Council of the province will also attend.

The Cebu-Bohol interconnection will encourage more power developers because any future excess electricity produced by the Bohol-based generating facility will be transmitted using the link and sold outside.

The Cebu-Bohol power link will complement with the existing Leyte-Bohol interconnection in “exporting” excess electricity to the grid.

Members of the BEDAG have been one in saying that the interconnection will ensure the outside market of excess power supply generated from the Bohol-based plant.

Bohol’s demand alone has grown fast as business and economic investments have indicated a consistent surge —and faster once the modern international airport in Panglao begins operating  in 2018.

BEDAG advisories earlier released to the potential power investors had indicated an open-door approach to renewable energy investments, either by public-private partnership or purely private mode.

But power facilities using renewable energy can only generate a limited capacity while cost-efficiency is another premium factor considered.

The energy development body is now carefully evaluating the advantages and perceived disadvantages of allowing a big power generation plant using coal or liquefied natural gas.

Investors are keen on assisting Bohol in these technologies.

BEDAG members said the land-based power generation in Bohol should be able to provide sufficient, reliable, resilient and cost-efficient baseload power supply.

The BEDAG is chaired by the governor and co-chaired by the DOE secretary.

With BEDAG support, the power distribution utilities in Bohol have contracted a bulk or aggregate power supply until year 2023.

Chatto would want the Cebu-Bohol power interconnection completed as early as 2020 even if the NGCP is keen on having it fully done in 2021 instead of its original completion target of 2022.

The power distributors—Boheco 1 and 2 and Bohol Light—have consolidated their power supply demand to negotiate terms more favorable to the utilities and Boholano consumers or endusers. (Ven rebo Arigo)
    BLACKOUT AGAIN

WITHOUT NOTICE

Hitches in Leyte grid, again, clutched the entire island of Bohol to another total power outage yesterday.

Bohol sub-stations of National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) dried up again of power supply twice yesterday when the Ormoc-Maasin 138kV Line 2 tripped anew.

The tripping in the Leyte side of the Leyte-Bohol power grid caused supply interruption at 9:56 a.m. to 10:31 a.m. and at 11:18 a.m. to 6 p.m. yesterday.

NGCP-Leyte had to send a line inspection team in a chopper to conduct aerial inspection.

The chopper team reinforced the ground patrol team that went out tracing the cause the entire afternoon.

The chopper team had to wait until later in the afternoon as the winds prevented it from flying at first attempt.

Betty Martinez, spokesperson for NGCP-Visayas, explained that NGCP actually sent three patrolling teams along the 114-kilometer Ormoc-Maasin Line 2.

They surveyed the area from Structure 180 to Structure 220. The first team took charge of Structure No. 180, while the second team proceeded to Structure 220, and the third team surveyed the middle part.

While line patrol had been undertaken in Leyte, business operations in most parts of Bohol halted on another Saturday power glitch.

Most common cause of unscheduled power interruptions is “vegetation” such as coconut fronds, branches of trees, or any even banana leaves touching the transmission lines. This causes load interruptions.

Except for incidents like this, NGCP undertakes necessary power shutdown from time to time to facilitate maintenance routines usually on Saturdays.

Just within the month, Bohol had experienced one scheduled power blackout and a major unscheduled power shutdown.

The scheduled 13-hour power shutdown on December 3 from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. stretched to 20 hours and a half and NGCP managed to restore power only at 12:27 a.m. on December 4, attributing it to bad weather that made it difficult for the NGCP linemen and engineers to undertake the procedure.

An unscheduled power interruption affecting the entire Bohol followed on the same day at 1:21 p.m. and NGCP restored power at 2:02 p.m., attributing it to another tripping of the 138kV Ormoc-Maasin Line 2.

NGCP qualified the December 3 scheduled power shutdown as necessary in relation to line upgrading activity as a second line, or Line 2, has been added to the Leyte-Bohol grid that supplies electricity to Bohol through submarine cables.

Line 2 has been in place to ensure continuous power supply in the future.

In most cases, linemen have to dodge with the weather in Leyte that is prone to typhoons and other weather systems.

On November 18, tripping in Ormoc-Maasin line caused an almost one-hour blackout in Bohol. The unscheduled power interruption hit Bohol from 9:51 p.m. to 10:47 p.m.

NGCP traced the sudden shutdown of power supply to the tripping of the 138-kilovolt Ormoc-Maasin line in Leyte which affected the operation of all the three power distribution utilities in Bohol- -Bohol Light Company, Inc., Boheco I and Boheco II.

On September 3, NGCP also conducted maintenance activities in some parts of Bohol affecting only BOHECO II service area at 5-6 a.m. and at 5-6 p.m.

The maintenance activities were undertaken along the 69kV Ubay-Alicia-Garcia line.

Another round of maintenance activities were undertaken on September 1 at 5-6 a.m. and at 5-6 p.m., affecting only the BLCI Dampas sub-station, BOHECO I Loay and Panglao substations and BOHECO II Garcia Feeder.

The maintenance activities were undertaken along the 69kV Tagbilaran-Garcia line.

On August 6, power interruption was scheduled, affecting BOHECO II Guindulman and Alicia substations at 5-6 a.m. and at 5-6 p.m., to facilitate maintenance works along the 69kV Ubay-Alicia-Garcia line.

Another blackout was experienced on June 11 from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. when NGCP transferred wires of Tower 70 along the 138-kilovolt Ormoc-Maasin Line 1 to a temporary structure to facilitate repairs on the tower, in addition to project-related and other synchronized maintenance activities.

In barely a month, another blackout followed on July 9 affecting the entire Bohol from at 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. due to shutdown of the 138-kilovolt Ormoc-Maasin line to facilitate return of wires from Emergency Restoration System (ERS) structure the repaired Tower 70 in Albuera, Leyte.

Another 13-hour blackout was experienced on March 5 from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. when NGCP had to shutdown the 138-kilovolt Maasin-Ubay submarine cable line for its annual preventive maintenance including the 100-megavolt-ampere transformer and other equipment at Ubay Substation.

It was actually another instance when NGCP had breached its original target of supposedly containing the power interruption from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. on a Saturday.

By the time households were expecting the return of power supply at 6:00 p.m., the NGCP issued another advisory informing that the power interruption would be extended up to 7:00 p.m. as they were still working on the line configuration from Corella-Tagbilaran and Tagbilaran 69kV line sections.

By 7:00 p.m., the NGCP issued another advisory informing that the power interruption would further be extended up to 8:00 p.m.

NGCP explained that as of 7:00 p.m., line configuration from Corella-Tagbilaran and Tagbilaran 69kV line sections had been completed already, but the lines could not be re-energized because of a breaker problem on the part of BLCI.

The March 5 blackout was the second power interruption in 15 days and the first to cover entire Bohol this year.

Power interruptions in parts of Bohol, affecting only consumers of BOHECO II, were experienced on February 18.

The power interruptions then only spanned from 6-7 a.m. and 4-5 p.m.

It was only due to maintenance works along the 69-kV Ubay-Alicia-Garcia line. 

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