Typhoon causes massive power cut in Bicol

Published November 1, 2020, 2:15 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The wrath of  typhoon “Rolly” was terribly felt in all provinces of the Bicol region and consumers in the area are now groping in the dark because of massive brownouts that had been trigged by damaged power facilities.

Residents of Taguig remove their boats as they prepare for Super Typhoon “Rolly” as it approach the metro on Sunday. (Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)

But power utility companies indicated that as the extreme weather disturbance  traverse various areas in Luzon and Visayas, millions of Filipino consumers are anticipated to suffer from interruptions or would be losing their electricity supply at some point.

An initial report from the National Electrification Administration (NEA) stated that 10 electric cooperatives (ECs) already lost power supply as of 8 a.m.  Sunday and that was immediately after the super typhoon’s landfall in Catanduanes and Albay.

Consumers affected were those in Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon, and Ticao Island in Masbate.

 There are no definitive commitments yet from the Department of Energy  and the power utilities on when the crippling brownouts will last especially in the severely battered areas of the typhoon’s path.

And while consumers are problematic about power supply at the duration of the typhoon’s onslaught, the DoE reported that several power plants were also on unplanned outages, particularly the 150-megawatt Unit 1 of the South Luzon Power Generation Corp. (SLPGC) due to boiler tube leak; 140 MW Unit 1 of the Bacon-Manito geothermal power facility which was placed on emergency shutdown; and the 1,200 MW Ilijan plant which was on total shutdown to prevent plant damage or sudden disconnection to the grid.

The National Power Corp. reported that spilling operations were carried out at the Ambuklao and Binga Dams but it was emphasized that this will not cause flooding in “flood warning zones” primarily in Bokod and Itogon in Benguet.

The State-run firm said it is continuously conducting intensive basin monitoring and analysis, and “disseminating pertinent dam discharge warning information to the public and all concerned agencies.”

System operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said as of 8 a.m. Sunday, at least 16 of its transmission lines have been downed by the severe weather disturbance in Catanduanes, Albay, Caramines Sur, and Camarines Norte.

The unavailable transmission lines are Gumaca-Lopez-Tagkawayan; Labo-Paracale; Labo-Talisay; Naga-Libmanan; Naga-Lagonoy; Naga-Tinambac; Naga-Concepcion; Naga-Iriga; Daraga-Sorsogon; Sorsogon-Bulan; Sorsogon-Sorsogon; Ligao-Dunao; Daraga-Ligao; Tiwi-Malinao-Tabaco; Daraga-Legazpi; and Daraga-Sto Domingo.

The transmission firm also noted that eight of its 230-kilovolt lines are unavailable, massively affecting consumers in the Bicol region.

“The loss of power may be caused by affected transmission facilities of NGCP or distribution facilities of local distribution facilities of electric cooperatives,” the transmission company explained.

It added that “specific cities and municipalities affected by the power interruptions are determined by concerned DUs, unless the outage affects the entire franchise area.”

The country’s electric cooperatives had just restored power service affected by typhoon “Quinta,” which also walloped the country recently. They will be overwhelmed again with even  the bigger dilemma of power interruptions  from Rolly.

NEA reported  Friday  that the initial cost of damage by Quinta on EC facilities was placed at P50.922 million.

Hardest hit was the Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (ORMECO) which logged P14.659 million worth of damage in its facilities, according to the  NEA Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Department.

Other ECs severely affected were Camarines Sur IV Electric Cooperative, P9.479 million; tl Marinduque Electric Cooperative,  P8.476 million; Camarines Sur III Electric Cooperative, P5.523 million; and Camarines Sur II Electric Cooperative, P4.585 million.