Bohol remains powerless as blackout cripples business
TAGBILARAN CITY, Dec. 4 (PNA) -- An announced total blackout that unexpectedly lasted for more than 21 hours on Saturday till early dawn Sunday has practically crippled businesses, leaving them in disarray and resorting to literally cranking their respective standby generator sets to keep business going.
It was supposedly 12 hours (or less) for maintenance purposes as pronounced by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) days before the shutdown.
Later on the night, a series of announcement coming from the power distributors in Bohol ensued. It said that power energy will be restored an hour after the supposedly 5 in the afternoon to 6:30 p.m. then, again, to 8:30 p.m. All did not materialize.
Then another power advisory relayed thru SMS said there was “technical problem” in Ubay side after the submarine cable, referring to interconnection of Leyte power grid to Bohol, was energized. Finally, the power was restored at past midnight.
Bohol is still suffering from lack of power supply since it did not have yet its own generating capacity, Provincial Board Member Atty. Tomas D. Abapo, Jr. said in gist during the session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on Friday.
Bohol’s economy has already been hurt and businesses paralyzed during the 12-hour total blackout a day before the fight of Manny Pacquioa on Nov. 6, 2014, the veteran lawmaker Atty. Tomas Abapo Jr. said.
There had been similar blackouts in past months accordingly for maintenance of its facilities in Leyte where the geothermal source of power come from.
Abapo said the sad experience of blackout is reminiscent of aftermath of supertyphoon "Yolanda" that crushed Leyte exactly three weeks after the magnitude 7.2 shook Bohol on October 15, 2013.
Bohol remains powerless even as it’s essentially dependent on geothermal plant in Tongonan, Leyte for its some 70-megawatt requirement during peak hours.
“Bohol is an island province that is fully dependent on Leyte for power,” Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Panglao Island Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PICCI) and Bohol Association of Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants (BAHRR) said in their joint statement urging Department of Labor and Employment for daily wage hike freeze.
It added that “Establishments in the province incur additional costs for the acquisition of expensive but efficient and high quality generators and alternative power supplies to avoid hampered business operations during Leyte’s monthly maintenance (whole day blackout) and constant unavoidable brownouts. Additionally, most supplies and materials needed are usually imported from other provinces, thus, logistics on business operations in Bohol are more costly.”
“Bohol's competitive edge as an investment destination is negatively affected until Bohol can find alternative power sources,” Rosalinda Paredes, a city resident said in her Facebook post.
BM Abapo brought up the power concern before the session because he wanted to know the status of what the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG) has done so far after its creation by executive order issued by the governor two years ago. Abapo said that the mandate of the group is “to ensure continuous, adequate and reliable” power supply for Bohol.
He said that BEDAG chair Engr. Acierto, shall be invited to shed light before the provincial board on the following queries: What are the proposals for energy sources? Who are the potential investors? And What’s the timetable in addressing the power inadequacy in Bohol?
NGCP said thru its spokesperson betty B. Martinez in her fb post today it “sincerely apologizes for the inconveniences the prolonged power interruption had caused to power consumers in Bohol.” It added that power fully restored in Bohol at 12:27AM Dec. 4 following the “energized Facility: New Ormoc-Maasin 138kV Line 2,” she said.
Bohol is served by a little over combined 20 MW from the two hydro plants and another (hydro) in Balilihan and Bohol diesel power plant. It needs more than 60 MW during peak hours, according to power distributors in Bohol.
Bohol Electric Cooperative (BOHECO) I and II serve power distribution in 47 municipalities and Bohol Light Company in this city. (PNA)