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No timeline for power normalcy yet

| by: Stanley Cin

1459051_628447123863861_782436321_nThe rotating brownouts in Cebu and in the whole Visayas region is expected to continue for eight months at its worst-case scenario.

Supplier of 1/3 of the total energy requirement in the Visayas, First Gen Energy Solutions Cebu was tight-lipped when asked when it could normalize its operations.

“There are no spare parts available. So, it’s really difficult to come up with a target,” said Ramon Corro, vice president of First Gen Energy Solutions Cebu in a meeting called by Governor Hilario P. Davide III last Thursday, December 12.

First Gen owns a substantial interest on the Unified Leyte, a geothermal power plant complex, which was heavily damaged during the onslaught of the typhoon Yolanda last month. Bofore Yolanda, it supplied more than 500 Megawatts (MW) to the Visayas Grid. Now, it only produces 144 MW.

Antonio Chiu, vice president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) suggested that the concerned stakeholders submit a weekly status report to the governor, which would indicate the timeline.

Sebastian Lacson, chief operating officer of the Visayan Electric Company (VECO), however pushed for the implementation of Interruptible Load Program (ILP) to minimize the impact of power shortage.

In ILP, private companies in Cebu de-load power from VECO when the power supply lowered. The companies were then paid according to the per kilowatt-hour they have consumed from their standby generators.

The independent power producers, who also attended the meeting, asked for the lifting of suspension of Wholesale, Electricity Spot Market (WESM) so that more power players will be coming in.

WESM may help alleviate the power shortage in Visayas since it will open up doors to players from Luzon, Nestor Canlas, officer-in-charge, Spot Market Division, Market Operations Service of Energy Regulatory Commission.

Chiu, who was representing the consumer sector, was apprehensive, since the energy from free market costs higher as what is happening in Luzon now. WESM trading in the Visayas was suspended few days after the typhoon last month.

However, Canlas said the power purchased from WESM would be very minimal and will not significantly increase the power rates in the region.

Lacson also said it does not follow that if there’s WESM the power rates will go up. He added that in the Visayas, the power rate from WESM is even below average during the previous years.

Cebu is consuming 750 megawatts (MW) but the National Grid Corporation of the Philippine could only muster 650 MW.

In his closing statement, Gov. Davide asked the NGCP to step up. The agency was requested to revive the interconnection of the Visayas and Luzon grids so that the region can avail of excess power from Luzon.

Davide said it seems like they are on the mercy of NGCP, whose responsibility is to link the energy generated from the country’s power suppliers to the distribution utilities.

VECO pointed out the inadequacy of NGCP transmission lines in Cebu South. As a result, the transmission of power supplies is not fully maximized.

Lacson said Cebu should be a priority of NGCP when it comes to the delivery of energy because of its economic position in the region.

The governor called for the follow up meeting with all the stakeholders, amidst the worsening brownouts in Cebu. Both the business and the daily lives of the Cebuanos have been affected. Xerxes Alkuino