With the power distribution utilities (DU) still under contract with several suppliers outside the province, there is no other recourse than to wait until the time is right.
Even with mounting proposals, Bohol cannot have its own inland power plant, and will remain to be the end of the loop, until the smoke clears, and the province gets a new lease to have its own power source
The power plan for Bohol is really to establish its own power plants not later than December 26, 2023.
In relation to this, Gov. Edgar Chatto, appeals to Bohol Light Company Inc, Bohol Electric Cooperative I, and Bohol Electric Cooperative II to finalize the term of reference so that “we can proceed with the competitive selection process (CSP) or competitive bidding process.”
However, he reiterated what he has said before that the supplier for Bohol’s power will already be very, very cost efficient, already be reliable, and most of all, consistent with the province’s sustainable development vision considering the environmental impact that should also be put into consideration.
The province will still pursue the building of an inland power plant as the power barge is a bridging solution when the supply dwindles.
He said the power barge will fill the gapsin the lack of power supply until Bohol achievessufficiency in power when the Cebu interconnection will already be completed by National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in 2020 or 2021.
He explained that there is a bridging period between now and 2021 and this is why we need the barge to supplement during those times when Leyte fails, or during times of natural disaster, or by reason of maintenance operations on the part of NGCP.
In the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG) meeting Thursday, everybody agreed to look, whether or not, Bohol would still add additional bridging solutions.
The power situation still has a gap even with the barge getting online.
On December 2, of which the pre-scheduled blackout would most probably be during the day time, the power demand would be lower.
Hopefully, the power barge, the Bohol Diesel Power Plant in Dampas, and the hydro powers can supply a substantial portion of the power supply of Bohol.
The governor said the deficit will be about 7MW, which is minimal.
The challenges is now to respond to situations when the blackout happens at night; for this reason additional factors like the bridging supply which will be necessary.
The BEDAG consensus Thursday was for us to first observe the present situation under the barge to properly determine the cost factor because, he explained further, if we opt for another supply of power at this time, the cost that will be passed on to consumers might be higher.
Chatto happily informed everyone that our agreement with the Salcon Power Corporation (SPC) and the power utilities is a very generous agreement.
Power Barge 104 will be standing by in Bohol, which would only be used when needed, but paying only for what was consumed; meaning, no standby fees to be paid for power that has not been used.
The Office of the Governor has received a resolution from LGU-Ubay asking Chatto to intervene on behalf of the BEDAG, that is, to put the power barge in Ubay, the original plan of which was to put it in Loon.
After Thursday’s deliberations and considering the strategic location of Ubay, and with BLCI and BOHECO I near Tagbilaran, it was then concurred by all, NGCP, BOHECO I, BOHECO II and BLCI, that SPC Power Barge 104 is to put on a permanent standby in Ubay.
He reaffirmed that “in Bohol, we help each other, we work together and we share all benefits we get. All recognitions are also shared.”
Engr. Cesar Villegas, VP for Business Development and Commercial Operations of SPC described the switching on as “inspirational.”
Villegas reminisced about the July 6 Leyte earthquake and he attested that “your very energetic, very aggressive, very dynamic governor, who was out of the country then, made things possible. Power returned to Tagbilaran the following day.”
“After this,’ he continued, “I really saw how the Provincial Government of Bohol looks at the situation.”
Despite the “band aid” solution then to immediately restore power, “the situation did not deter him to think of and do something better. Chatto invited all who can help with the situation, and now, it has all boiled down to this day.”
Villegas admitted that everyone was in a quandary then but, “Lo and behold! I saw with my own eyes that out of the very dynamic leadership of Gov. Chatto, everything went according to its proper place. Everything here works so fast, so who wouldn’t be inspired?”
He added that “everything went so well that I asked him awhile ago, Gov, when would you be President?”
Adding further, Villegas admitted that “we just want to give him his due.”
And looking directly at the governor, he smiled and said,” our highest respect Gov we saw how you did it.”
But before taking his seat again, Villegas, in a louder voice, told Chatto, “I have never seen such a great, big concerted effort; everyone working, with the governor at the helm. Power Barge 104 has only a capacity of 26MW. We just hope we can serve you the best way we can, hoping we cannot fail you.”
THE NEED FOR POWER
The thirst for power is imminent with the blackout that happened after an earthquake hit Leyte. Bohol needs at least 72 megawatts and a bit more for buffer to really keep things going. As Bohol’s economy grows, so thus the need for power.
Despite being out of range of the tremor, Bohol still felt the effects of the earthquake since the source of power went down.
Bohol is heavily reliant on the power being produced by the geothermal power plants located in Eastern Visayas.
With the power plants down, Bohol was plunged into darkness, relying on meager power from the Dampas Diesel Power Plant and some small hydro electric plants scattered all over the province.
The power produced by these power plants was not sufficient, thus the province, particularly Tagbilaran, power was rationed. Rotating brownouts were the order of the day for more than a week.
Some areas of the province were without power for more than a couple of weeks, until the bypass line, that encountered several challenges went online to provide power to several towns.
The loss of the power sent negative memories flooding back into the consciousness of the people.
With twin disasters the 2013 earthquake and the Yolanda super-typhoon, Bohol’s power was knocked out for several months.
Businesses in the province could no longer afford running on generator sets, as people here virtually went back in time when electricity is not prevalent causing anxiety and loss of opportunities.
The experience in July helped realize the goal of having an inland power plant to provide the power for Bohol.
To fast track the implementation of projects and opening windows to funding, the provincial board, upon the request of the governor, declared a state of calamity in the province. With the declaration, the provincial government was able to tap resources, otherwise unavailable, to ease the power crisis looming in the province, despite the province too far from direct harm from the devastating earthquake.
Nonetheless, the switching of the power barge and the impending connection directly to Cebu for power, may be some of the stop-gap measures needed to stabilize the supply for Bohol in the coming years. (with reports from Janet Villarojo)