When a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck Leyte on July 6 of this year which caused the shutdown of Bohol’s main source of electricity, the Energy Development Corporation (EDC), the Boholanos felt so disheartened and feared that their province would again experience the “horror” of having to go days on end without power.
But barely 27 hours after the mishap, Tagbilaran City’s electric power, which is under the service of Bohol Light Company, Inc. (BLCI), resumed at around 7:00 PM the following day.
The Boholanos could not afford to go through another similar “horror story,” that happened in 2013 after ‘Yolanda’ struck Leyte.
The wheels started turning.
“Bohol Province is very lucky to have a governor who moves to attain critical goals such as power security.”
These strong words of confidence came from Engr. Virgilio P. Sanchez, Head, NGCP Visayas Operations and Maintenance, during Friday’s switch-on ceremony of the Ubay SS-Tapal 69kV Tie-Line and Power Barge 104 at Ubay Sub-station in Barangay Imelda, Ubay.
Power Barge 104 was earlier synchronized to the system Friday at 9:00 in the morning, right before the said ceremony.
Friday’s switch-on of the circuit breaker for Power Barge 104 was done one after the other by Engr. Cesar Villegas, VP for Business Development and Commercial Operations of Salcon Power Corporation (SPC); Engr. Virgilio P. Sanchez, Head, NGCP Visayas Operations and Maintenance; and of course, Gov. Edgar M. Chatto.
It was consequently witnessed by Ubay Vice-Mayor Nelson Uy, Barangay Captains Teodulo S. Cadorniga and Danilo Valmoria of Barangays Imelda and Tapal, respectively, BOHECO II General Manager Engr. Eugene R. Tan, BOHECO I General Manager Engr. Dino Nicolas T. Roxas, representatives from BLCI and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), and NGCP personnel.
ISLAND -SOURCED POWER?
Sanchez continued that Friday’s ceremony “signifies the fruition of the Boholanos’ aspiration to secure a power source right in the Island to put an end to days of total loss of power when supply from Leyte is cut.”
Power Barge 104 is a substantial addition to the Bohol Diesel Power Plant (BDPP) that can partially serve local demand during abnormal times, thus providing a significant relief.
The experiences from ‘Yolanda’, the host of typhoons which also affected power lines that transport electricity from Ormoc to Southern Leyte and the most recent, the July 6 earthquake, speak of homes, businesses catering to the thriving tourism industry, offices and other industries being severely affected as the absence of power supply would last days and weeks.
NGCP supports efforts to put in place more stable and more reliable power in Bohol Island, and the construction of this 69kV tie line to Power Barge 104 of SPC Power Corporation is a testament, Sanchez reiterated.
Now in the blueprint is another project, the Cebu-Bohol interconnection, which will serve as an additional power supply route to Bohol, another manifestation of NGCP’s solid backing of Bohol’s economic goals.
The project will be realized within the set timeline with the cooperation of the people and leaders of the province, he added.
Sanchez reaffirmed NGCP’s assurance to Gov. Chatto and the Boholanos that their company is “committed to continuing its upgrade and expansion of its local facilities and systems in order to deliver reliable and quality power transmission services to the Island, in support of the economic roadmap of the local administration.”
For Engr. Juiseppe R. Lomaad, NGCP’s Chief Engineer for Transmission Lines, D2 for Visayas Operations and Maintenance, the earthquake led Boholanos to realize in putting up additional power lines.
“Hard, but we made it through,” he pointed out; and added, “this is a victorious day.”
BOHOL POWER PLAN
The actual switching on of Power Barge 104 is “another milestone in the energy program in the province,” said Gov. Chatto.
The power plan for Bohol is really to establish its own power plants not later than December 26, 2023.
Therefore, he is appealing to BLCI, BOHECO I, and BOHECO II to finalize the term of reference so that “we can proceed with the competitive selection process (CSP) or competitive bidding process.”
However, he reiterated what he has said before that the supplier for Bohol’s power will already be very, very cost efficient, already be reliable, and most of all, consistent with the province’s sustainable development vision considering the environmental impact that should also be put into consideration.
ADMITTED BRIDGING SOLUTION ENOUGH?
Nevertheless, the barge is ONLY a bridging solution, he cautioned.
He stated further that its purpose is only to connect the present state of the lack of power to the future state of sufficiency in power when the Cebu interconnection will already be completed by NGCP in 2020 or 2021.
He explained that there is a bridging period between now and 2021 and this is why we need the barge to supplement during those times when Leyte fails, or during times of natural disaster, or by reason of maintenance operations on the part of NGCP.
In the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG) meeting Thursday, everybody agreed to look into, whether or not, Bohol would still add additional bridging solutions.
This is because the power situation now has still a gap even if we already have the barge.
On December 2, of which the pre-scheduled blackout would most probably be during the day, the power demand would be lower.
Hopefully, the power barge, the BDPP in Dampas, and the hydro powers can supply a substantial portion of the power supply of Bohol.
If, he surmised, there might be some lacking, it might only be A minimal 7MW.
But then again, he said, we have to look forward also to what might happen if the blackout happens at night; and this is why we continue to look for additional factors like the bridging supply which will be necessary. BEDAG CONSENSUS
The BEDAG consensus Thursday was for us to first observe the present situation under the barge in order to properly determine the cost factor because, he explained further, if we opt for another supply of power at this time, the cost that will be passed on to consumers might be higher.
Gov. Chatto happily informed everyone that our agreement with the SPC and the power utilities is a very generous agreement.
Power Barge 104 will be standing by in Bohol, which would only be used when needed, but paying only for what was consumed; meaning, no standby fees to be paid for power that has not been used.
UBAY NEW SITE
The Office of the Governor has received a resolution from LGU-Ubay asking Gov. Chatto to intervene on behalf of the BEDAG, that is, to put the power barge in Ubay, the original plan of which was to put it in Loon.
After Thursday’s deliberations and considering the strategic location of Ubay, and with BLCI and BOHECO I near Tagbilaran, it was then concurred by all, NGCP, BOHECO I, BOHECO II and BLCI, that SPC Power Barge 104 is to put on a permanent standby in Ubay.
This is because, he reaffirmed that “in Bohol, we help each other, we work together and we share all benefits we get. All recognitions are also shared.”
Engr. Cesar Villegas, VP for Business Development and Commercial Operations of SPC described the switching on as “inspirational.”
Villegas reminisced about the July 6 Leyte earthquake and he attested that “your very energetic, very aggressive, very dynamic governor, who was out of the country then, made things possible. Power returned to Tagbilaran the following day.”
“After this,’ he continued, “I really saw how the Provincial Government of Bohol looks at the situation.”
Despite the “band aid” solution then to immediately restore power, “the situation did not deter him to think of and do something better. Gov. Chatto invited all who can help with the situation, and now, it has all boiled down to this day.”
Villegas admitted that everyone was in a quandary then but, ” I saw with my own eyes that out of the very dynamic leadership of Gov. Chatto, everything went according to its proper place. Everything here works so fast, so who wouldn’t be inspired?”
Adding further, Villegas admitted that “we just want to give him his due.”
But before taking his seat again, Villegas, told Gov. Chatto: “I have never seen such a great, big concerted effort; everyone working, with the governor at the helm. Power Barge 104 has only a capacity of 26MW. We just hope we can serve you the best way we can, hoping we cannot fail you.” (with report from JanetV/PGBh/EDCom)