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Odette Causes P1.56-Billion Damage To Power Sector

Odette Causes P1.56-Billion Damage To Power Sector
Residents walk past down electric posts in Talisay City, Cebu on Dec. 17, 2021, a day after Typhoon Odette pummeled provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao. Photo by AFP

As the extent of destruction wrought by Typhoon Odette continues to be assessed, the estimated cost of damage to the power sector has already breached P1.5 billion, with four areas still plunged in blackouts.

“Of the electric cooperatives that submitted damage reports, it is now P1.56 billion,” National Electrification Administration (NEA)-Total Electrification and Renewable Energy head Ernesto Silvano said at a virtual briefing Saturday, Dec. 25.

With 25 electric cooperatives (ECs) having submitted their reports to the NEA as of Dec. 24, the Bohol I Electric Cooperative Inc. (BOHECO I) accounted for nearly half of the damage cost.

For its part, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has yet to determine the amount of damage sustained by transmission facilities. 

“NGCP is focusing its efforts on restoration right now. The regulator requires us to submit a report on this but I believe we are given time (a year) to comply,” said Randy Galang, engineering project management head.

“For now, we are moving heaven and earth to ensure we restore the remaining affected facilities as soon as possible,” Galang said.

Odette, the fiercest tropical cyclone to hit the country in recent years, adversely affected 74 ECs. Out of the total, 49 have resumed normal operations while 16 remain saddled with partial power outage. 

The typhoon also disrupted the operation of 95 transmission facilities, of which 81 have already been restored as of Saturday, Dec. 25.

“We are very much concerned with the nine ECs still (facing) total power interruption,” Silvano said.

Of these nine ECs, four have reported initial energization of substations. But the other five – the BOHECO I, BOHECO II, Cebu I Electric Cooperative Inc. (CEBECO I), Dinagat Island Electric Cooperative Inc. (DIELCO) and Siargao Electric Cooperative Inc. (SIARELCO) – are still critical areas.

In Cebu, Silvano said the NEA is concentrating on the CEBECO I’s area in the south which still suffers from a total power outage.

The Visayan Electric Co. (VECO) reported energizing 52,435 out of the 474,182 affected customers as it restored 39.7 percent of the 544 power line segments within its franchise area.

“Restoration is taking longer in areas where Visayan Electric’s distribution facilities sustained heavy damage such as toppled poles, downed wires and damaged transformers,” VECO said on its Facebook page.

The power distributor has also energized a total of 18 Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) pumping stations and more vital institutions – 14 hospitals in Cebu City, two hospitals in Mandaue City and two vaccination storage areas.

“Our linemen from Visayan Electric, together with the engineers and crews from various distribution utilities from all over the country, have been working 24 hours a day to clear lines and restore power at the soonest and safest time,” the VECO said.

NEA said Bohol remains to be “really critical and challenging.”

“As reported by the DOE, this would go on an island mode as soon as they finish the transmission lines and the distribution utilities finish the rehabilitation of distribution lines and connection of the consumers,” Silvano said.

Bohol Light Company Inc. (BLCI) said all work activities are focused first on the repair of backbone lines.

It is being aided by contingents from Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to repair of its distribution line system.

The NGCP has maintained its target to energize two 69-kilovolt (kV) lines to allow island operation or energization using internal generator by Dec. 31.

The 138-kV Bohol backbone, which will allow Bohol to import supply, is scheduled to be energized on Jan. 16, 2022.

In the Caraga region, NEA’s Silvano said areas without power are the critically hit Dinagat and Siargao Islands.

In terms of power restoration targets, Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said energization in the remaining areas without power will depend on the location and speed of rehabilitation of affected areas, but will definitely be completed before the May elections.