The Department of Energy (DOE) is seriously studying proposals to bury underground electricity cables to prevent power outages during typhoons, but warned this would also likely cause an increase in power rates.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the proposal should be carefully studied because it will impose additional costs to electric distributors, who would subsequently be forced to pass those costs on to consumers.
Petilla issued the statement after the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said it is “seriously” considering putting electric wires underground after the damage inflicted by Typhoon Glenda caused widespread power outages.
The power outages that hit Metro Manila and nearby provinces were attributed to damaged electric wires and utility posts downed by the typhoon.
Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said power outages are just a usual scenario during calamities since Meralco’s power distribution lines are still overhead.
The DOE chief said that even after Super Typhoon Yolanda, the agency had considered putting electric wires underground.
Nearly all of the electric posts and wires were downed in areas affected by Yolanda, which resulted in extended blackouts in many parts of the Visayas.
Although the proposal is valid and reasonable, Petilla said it should be studied very carefully as several things should be first considered, such as the installation cost.
He said the cost of putting electricity wires underground is at least five times higher than conventional overhead installation, and the added costs will be charged to the consumers.
“It actually costs like concreting roads, because with the installation [of underground power lines]you have things such as anti-flooding systems and pump systems, which are expensive and they are more difficult to maintain,” he added.
However, Petilla said since the county is vulnerable to calamities as it is being visited by more typhoons every year, it is a must to seriously consider the proposal.
“That is what we are studying right now, the cost implication of the proposal,” he added.