• Blackouts to continue in parts of Visayas as energy dept works 24/7 to restore power


    Blackouts in earthquake-hit areas in the Visayas will continue as the Department of Energy (DoE) and its stakeholders are working 24/7 to restore electricity within three to seven days, Secretary Alfonso Cusi said on Saturday.

    “I am hopeful that we can see a tremendous improvement in the delivery of energy services within three to seven days,” said Cusi who conducted aerial and ground inspection of the various power plants, including geothermal facilities, that were damaged after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit Leyte.

    Cusi said the DOE engineers were enforcing a combination of bypass and build-back-better strategies to speed up repairs on the power plants.

    Cusi inspected the 180-megawatt Majanandog Geothermal Power Plant (GPP); 230-MW Malitbog GPP; 120-MW Tongonan GPP; and 120-MW Upper Majiao GPP.

    These plants have seven other optimizing plants in their systems that generate an additional generation 50 MW.

    Cusi was briefed by Energy Development Corp. (EDC) president Richard Tantoco and vice president Lito Santos on the situation in the plants which, as of 10:00 a.m remained shut down.

    The Tongonan facility sustained damages to its office, the plant itself and transformer. Out of its 120-MW capacity, energy officials are hoping to restore 40 MW within seven to eight days, another 40-MW by September 1 and the last 40 MW within 50 days.

    The Tongonan GPP is directly connected to the 138-kilovolt (kv) transmission line, which is operated by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

    The Upper Majiao plant is expected to operate in five to seven days, bringing 132 MW back to the grid.

    For the Malitbog power plant, Units 1 and 2 are estimated to return to service within the next 7 to 10 days, bringing back about 150 MW.  Unit 3, however, will remain shut down due to the damage sustained by the cooling tower.

    Access to Majanandog plant remains difficult so no assessment has been made as to the extent of the damage.

    Sustaining only minor damages, the Malitbog GPP can deliver around 150 MW by July 11 to Samar and Ormoc City.

    The Malitbog, Majanandog and Majiao GPPs deliver electricity through the Marshaling Station, which was likewise damaged by the earthquake.

    “We are still working to clear landslide debris. Barring any unforeseen issues, EDC could have about 317 MW of power restored to Leyte within the next 10 days,” Tantoco said.

    “Meanwhile, repair of the marshalling station has commenced and we expect it to be operational in three to five days.  Aside from transmitting power from our plants, these repairs will also allow the connection of the station to the 230 kV line to Luzon,” he said.

    “Our team of contractors has been mobilized to work 24/7, safety considerations permitting, to complete the assessment and accelerate return to service,” he added.

    “The Yolanda experience taught us a lot and I have seen that we have improved on our restoration practices,” he said, adding “but there is always room for improvement”.

    Cusi was referring to Supertyphoon “Yolanda”, which hit Leyte in November 2013. Considered the strongest typhoon to hit land in recent history, Yolanda killed thousands, displaced thousands more and damaged infrastructure worth millions of pesos. VOLTAIRE PALANA



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