It may take up to “three to five days” from Monday before distribution utilities (DU) will be allowed to draw power from the Power Barge (PB) 104 and Bohol Diesel Power Plant (BDPP), Bohol’s largely insufficient emergency power sources, after the province was once again cut off from the Visayas grid due to Tropical Depression “Agaton.”
Starting at past midnight on Monday, Bohol was once again plunged into darkness after the storm damaged the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGCP) Ormoc-Maasin 138-kilovolt line which transmits power from the Leyte Geothermal Production Field in Leyte to Bohol.
According to Bohol Electric Cooperative (BOHECO) 2 operations officer Ariel Torrejos, they requested on Monday the SPC Power Corp., which operates both PB 104 and the BDPP, to allow the province’s three DUs to draw power from their facilities.
The power distributors will also seek the approval of the Department of Energy to exempt them from the competitive selection process which is needed for the Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a provisional authority for the DUs to draw emergency power.
“Pag mo hatag na si ERC og provisional authority, pwede na ta mo kuha og power nila [SPC]. Sa niagi base adtong nahitabo sa [Typhoon] Odette, mga five days pero paningkamutan namo na within two to three days,” said Torrejos in an interview on Monday.
The BDPP and power barge can provide an estimated12 megawatts and 37 megawatts, respectively, but are not enough to meet Bohol’s total power demand of around 90 megawatts.
The usage of the BDPP and PB 104 also causes consumers’ electricity bills to spike as both are powered by more expensive diesel and bunker fuels.
When the same facilities were used in the aftermath of Typhoon “Odette” from January to February 9, consumers’ electricity bills skyrocketed by 70 to 90 percent.
According to NGCP Visayas spokesperson Betty Martinez, they still do not have a definite timeline as to when they can resume the transmission of power from Leyte to Bohol.
“Kining Ormoc-Maasin line maoy niy lines gikan sa Ormoc substation going to Maasin substation in Southern Leyte and then kanang flow ana going to the cable terminal station then the submarine cable to Ubay, so og ma-cut ni siya walay supply na ma deliver sa Bohol,” said Martinez.
She said storm-induced floods and landslides affected four of their steel towers in Baybay, Leyte.
One of the four towers, Tower 110, was confirmed to have been toppled.
The NGCP has started efforts to establish Emergency Response Systems (ERS) that will reconnect the storm-hit Ormoc-Maasin line but operations have also been hampered by floods and continued rains.
“Dili pa pud ta ka approach kay flooded ang areas but as soon as weather will permit, we will deploy our choppers to conduct further aerial inspection,” said Martinez. (A. Doydora)