The plight of being plunged into total darkness could end anytime tomorrow.
This was the latest assessment made by the National Power Grid Corporation (NGCP) when checked by the Chronicle early dawn today.
The by-pass connection was rushed up in order to cut short the process of restoring power back to this island province, according to Rosette Martinez, NGCP spokesperson.
The new temporary connection is to have power from Cebu to Tabanago, Leyte then Ormoc to its way to Ubay since the “switching substations” in Leyte were damaged by last week’s 6.5 magnitude earthquake.
Because of the damages at the “switching substations,” some 463 megawatt power was deducted from the usual power supplied in the so-called Visayas grid.
Because of this shortage of power, there is no assurance that power can be totally restored to a 100% normalcy by tomorrow. However, it will bring power load closer to what Bohol needs which is about 60 to 70 mega.
This resumption of power tomorrow will not give Boholanos a comfortable reason that business will be back to normal since there is that huge shortage in the Visayas grid, making NGCP to proportion the available power to other nearby provinces as well.
Amidst this situation, Gov. Edgar Chatto, who is in Canada invited as guest of the 17th Biennial Convention of the Confederation of Boholanos in the United States and Canada (CONBUSAC) sent a strongly worded request to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi to send a power barge to Bohol the soonest possible time.
In his text message to the governor furnished to the Chronicle this morning, Sec. Cusi said he wants the “immediate restoration of power and at the same time, provide alternative source whichever comes first”.
Meanwhile, Bohol managed to restore power supply within 27 hours on its own after the shutdown of the geothermal plant of the Energy Development Corp. (EDC) in Leyte, which is the main source of power supply of the province, when a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck LeyteThursday afternoon.
Bohol plunged in darkness Thursday evening after the Ormoc-Maasin 138-kv line tripped at4:06 p.m., three minutes after the earthquake jolted the town of Kananga which is close to Jaro, Leyte where the epicenter was traced.
Part of EDC’s Tongonan Geothermal Power Plant, the “largest steam field in the world”, is in Kananga.
Bohol relies on the geothermal power plant in Leyte for its daily consumption of 60MW-76MW.
The blackout was initially estimated to stretch to at least three weeks for the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to find alternative sources of power supply to energize its transmission lines while the Tongonan plant is down.
Alarmed on the length of time that Bohol will have to suffer from total power shutdown, Gov. Edgar Chatto, who is in Canada to attend a gathering of the Conbusac, called the members of the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG) to convene right then.
During the BEDAG meeting, acting Provincial Administrator Boloy Boiser suggested finding a contingency measure to address the immediate need to restore power supply in Bohol.
Damalerio suggested tapping Salcon Power Corp. (SPC) for the operation of the Bohol Diesel Power Plant (BDPP).
Indeed, power supply in Tagbilaran City within the service area of Bohol Light Company, Inc. (BLCI) resumed at around 7 p.m. the following day, July 7, and went on for two hours at a time in the first round rationing.
The diesel plant in Dampas is now supplying 12 mega to the city while the Hanopol mini hydro and the Sevilla mini hydro which has about seven mega into the circuit enabled some towns under Boheco II to have power restored starting yesterday. The towns include, Sikatuna, Corella, Dauis, Baclayon, Calape, Loon and part of Tubigon.
From 10 p.m., power supply in the city went on uninterrupted, except Poblacion 1 and Poblacion 2 from 9 am-1 pm the following day. Other parts of Bohol also partake through Boheco I.
Power distribution had been on rationing until 11:30 p.m. of July 8 when all BLCI feeders have been energized already.
Because SPC-BDPP is running again, it was also able to jump-start Boheco I that needed to run its hydro-power plants to supply electricity to their consumers on rationing basis also.
Without the Power Supply Agreement, SPC-BDPP risks of not getting paid for its expenses in supplying diesel as fuel for the power plant in barangay Dampas, Tagbilaran City.
On this, BLCI encourages its consumers to conserve power usage to maximize the available supply to shorten power rationing schedule.
On the other hand, Department of Energy (DOE) Sec. Al Cusi also assured Chatto that Bohol will have power from Cebu by Monday.
This means NGCP can then get power supply from Cebu to Leyte and from its Ormoc-Maasin transmission facilities, it can bring electricity to Bohol through the submarine cable to President Carlos P. Garcia that is received at the Ubay sub-station.
The ERC then convened and gave go signal for the BDPP in Dampas to operate so the BLCI can implement power supply rationing.
The ERC had to hear the resolution from Sangguniang Panlalawigan, asking for a provisional authority for the operation of the Dampas power plant.
Initially, it was estimated that the Dampas diesel plant could sustain the first six hours from7 p.m. on July 6 to 1 a.m. on July 7.
However, it encountered some hitches and tripped, causing the power rationing to be cut to a rate of two hours per stretch.
After BDPP fixed the hitches, BLCI managed to distribute electricity uninterrupted in most part of its service area since 10 p.m. on July 7, including Bohol Water Utility, Inc.
For his part, 2nd District Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado was invited to an emergency meeting in Manila with SPC officials and BLCI Bohol Light Co. Inc. president Dennis Villareal in the evening of July 7 to discuss the power crisis situation in Bohol. The crucial meeting attended by well meaning Boholanos was able to convince Villareal to have the diesel plant in Dampas operate while waiting for the restoration of power from Cebu or Leyte.