By DAVE S. ALBARADO
In a snap, Bohol was plunged into darkness – a virtual dark age – causing anxiety among residents.
Quick to the draw, authorities were decisive in their actions as power was restored in Tagbilaran and some part of the province by Saturday.
Getting Tagbilaran and other places energized as soon as Friday night was far from being an easy task.
Authorities burned phone lines and talked to the powers that may be in the sidelines just to find ways to get power restored.
The behind-the-scenes story was never in full view of the public, which can be called a cooperative effort to bring back precious power into the homes and to prevent a looming economic collapse if the power supply is not restored soonest.
The Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG) convened on Friday to find ways to restore soonest possible time, the power in Bohol.
Bohol is reeling not just with the absence of power supply, but also water. Pumping stations are without power, thus impacting the water supply to homes.
The short-term solution eyed was to use the Bohol Diesel Power Plant in barangay Dampas to temporarily supply electricity to city residents and other areas of the province.
The solution worked, as the city got electricity at around 6 pm Friday. However, the power went out after two hours. The power went back after several hours.
Yesterday, some parts of Tagbilaran came up dry with power at around late morning, but the power went back in the afternoon.
Acting provincial administrator Mitchel John Boiser said there would be a six-hour rotating brownout to even up the meager power supply to the most number of consumers.
Second solution is to find a way to bypass the marshalling station and to connect Cebu’s power direct to Bohol.
A third solution was hatched by the BEDAG, which was to enter into an agreement with the private sector to lease power barges to be placed in Abatan River. The power barges will help ease the power supply crisis, as work to restore power supplied by Leyte is on-going.
Boiser presented the solutions to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, during the regular session, on Friday.
BLCI Gen. Manager Eulogio Signe, Acting Gov. Dionesio Balite, and Tagbilaran Mayor John Geesnell Yap signed the letter.
The result, the SP, came up with three resolutions aiming to arm the provincial government the authority to solve the power supply crisis brought about by the earthquake that struck Leyte.
The SP endorsed the letter of the Bohol Light Company Inc. (BLCI) to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for Salcon Island Power Corporation to provide emergency power supply for Tagbilaran and the BLCI franchise areas.
The provincial board also gave authority to Acting Governor Dionesio Balite to sign, in behalf of the provincial government of Bohol, the letter-request of the BLCI to the ERC.
The third resolution was for Balite to enter into a negotiation with Trans-Asia Power Inc. for the use of its power barge103, stationed in Mactan, Cebu and moved to Bohol to provide emergency power supply.
The Sangguniang Panglungsod made a similar move for the city.
Gov. Edgar Chatto communicated with Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and was given assurances about the power barges to supply emergency power to Bohol while the repairs are being done to the power plants that got damaged by the earthquake are on-going.
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said on a press advisory on Saturday that areas serviced by the BLCI, including Tagbilaran, has been supplied with electricity coming from the Bohol diesel power plant.
A huge earthquake about 6.5 magnitude hit Jaro, Leyte on Thursday.
The effects of the quake were hardly felt in Bohol, but the aftermath caused a shutdown in the power plants in Leyte that supply power to Bohol.
The power was down at about 4:06 pm on Thursday when the two circuits of the Ormoc-Maasin 138kv line tripped causing the massive blackout in the province.
Folks were virtually in the dark as to when the power will back considering Bohol’s power supply has been impaired.
Sentiments poured out after Bohol was plunged into darkness.
There have been a lot of chatter, especially on social media, regarding the province-wide blackout that crippled also the water supply to homes.
Chatto said, “the sentiment of people is understandable when it comes to experiencing blackouts due to emergency situation.”
He buckled down to work and sought to find solutions to ease the power problem gripping the province.
Reports said the governor hardly had any sleep while he was in Canada. He is in North America to attend the convention of the Confederation of Boholanos in the United States of America and Canada (CONBUSAC).
The governor said, “as part of medium and long term development, NGCP interconnection between Cebu-Bohol 30 km 230KV transmission line is in the works and is targeted to be completed in 2020.”
Procurement of island-based power in Bohol in its final stages: terms of reference and bidding.
The governor said since the project is a large investment, it will take time.
“Please also understand that these processes take time,” the governor said asking the public for patience.
DOE BUSY FINDING WAYS TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM
Cusi inspected on Saturday inspected the areas of the power plants damaged by the earthquake. At the same time, he thanked the men and women who were tirelessly working on 24-hour shifts to bring back electricity within three to five days in the quake-affected areas in the Visayas, especially in Leyte.
A press release from the DOE said the Energy Secretary on Saturday conducted an aerial and ground inspection of the various power plants, including geothermal facilities, that sustained damage from the magnitude 6.5 quake that recently hit the region.
A combination of bypass and build-back-better strategies are being implemented by the engineers, with Cusi expressing hope that power will be fully restored within seven days.
“I commend the dedicated Warays and the other personnel who are working 24/7 to fast track the delivery of safe and reliable electricity services to around 3 million consumers,” said Cusi.
“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.
“I am hopeful that we can see a tremendous improvement in the delivery of energy services within three to seven days.”
Chatto orders urgent PDRRMC meeting
Gov. Edgar M. Chatto ordered Provincial Legal Officer and Acting Provincial Administrator Atty. Mitchell John Boiser and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Anthony Damalerio on Thursday afternoon to convene the members of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) to discuss possible solution to the power supply problem confronting the province of Bohol recently and to gather updates or concerns of member-agencies.
The overseas directive of the governor was relayed by Damalerio to Tiara Bulilan as the governor has been apprehensive of the indirect effect the M6.5 Jaro, Leyte earthquake might bring to Bohol, more particularly on the power supply since Leyte is the source of the majority of the power supply for the province. The governor is in Canada to attend the 17th Biennial Convention of the Confederation of Boholanos in the USA and Canada (CONBUSAC).
Damalerio said that the governor, despite attending to various events of the CONBUSAC, has not slept a day after news reached him of the Jaro quake to look for ways and means just to provide solution to this power supply problem.
Atty. Boiser, as the presiding officer, shared to the Council that most eastern towns in the province have reported that they have felt the shaking as Bohol is under Intensity III. Aside from this, with the black out, water supply is hampered. He then requested the AFP and PNP present to strengthen its security measures as people might take this opportunity to commit crimes.
Peter Retutal of the Provincial Planning and Development Office informed the Council that the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG) has also convened that Friday morning upon the directive of the governor to discuss contingency measures and to check on power restoration while the governor is still in contact with Sec. Alfonso Cusi of the Department of Energy (DOE). BEDAG is still to meet again after that PDRRMC meeting.
BEDAG was created by the governor thru an Executive Order in 2014 after Bohol was put in darkness due to the 2013 earthquake and Typhoon Yolanda. BEDAG is an institutional mechanism for planning, implementing and monitoring of power development initiatives in Bohol. It is being co-chaired by the Secretary of the DOE with multi-sectoral composition from various representatives from the Local Government Unit, Private Sector, Academe, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), and the three local Distribution Utilities (BOHECO I, BOHECO II, and BLCI). Together with its Technical Working Group (BEDAG-TWG), BEDAG is responsible for preparing the Bohol Island Power Development Plan (BIPDP), which would eventually serve as the basis for the Province’s future power and energy investments.
Part of BEDAG’s discussion that morning was the information that Gov. Chatto suggested to request the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for Bohol’s Diesel Power Plant to operate to supply power for immediate power restoration but such move should be thru a legislative measure. It was learned that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed such resolution and was approved by Acting Governor Dionisio Balite. Aside from this, other options presented were the NGCP’s plan to bypass and get direct power from Cebu; request for a power barge stationed at Mactan, Cebu but it needs more budget and to get power from Luzon through the Luzon-Visayas link. The BEDAG was mulling on these options and whatever comes first just to solve the problem.
Common sentiment shared by majority of the PDRRMC members present is the problem on water supply.
Engr. Glenn Mejorada of the Bohol Water Utilities Inc (BWUI) informed the Council that they have already deployed four generator sets to their pumping stations and is set to put up two more by Saturday which can generate about 50-60% of water to parts of Dao, parts of Cogon, CPG Avenue, Poblacion 1 and Poblacion 2. And they might possibly add one more generator set later to come up with 80% of water supply for the city.
PDRRM Damalerio also shared to the Council that the Search, Rescue and Retrieval teams of the TaRSIER 117 has been ordered by Gov Chatto to be on standby should the province of Leyte sees a need for more SRR. PDRRMO Bohol and PDRRMO Leyte are closely coordinating for this.
The Bureau of Fire Protection also shared that the BFP is on full alert status as most houses are using candles to illuminate the dark nights while the Philippine National Police are deploying more than 100 personnel to the city especially for the Sandugo activities.
The Bohol Bankers Association, over a telephone call with Atty. Boiser, said that banks have generator sets set up in their banks easing qualms of the public wishing to withdraw money over the ATM this weekend.
Boiser also shared the news that Globe and Smart Telecommunications are offering free charging in majority of their cell sites around the province. Globe is also providing tents and extension wires for people charging their units. Globe charging areas will be at the Poblacion areas of the municipalities of Cortes, Loon, Calape, Getafe, Baclayon, Duero, Jagna, Guindulman, Sagbayan, Pilar, Sierra Bullones, Carmen, Tabalong, Dauis and Panglao. (with a report from tltb/pdrrmo)