AboitizPower open to discuss underground power expansion

·3 min read

ABOITIZPOWER is willing to work with government and industry partners to come up with mechanisms to make underground power commercially viable.

In a webinar dubbed “Road to Resilience: Preparing Our Communities for Natural Disaster” on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, AboitizPower Distribution Business Group chief operating Officer Anton Mari Perdices said clamor for underground power seemed to intensify following the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (Rai) that caused a widespread power outage in Cebu.

“Odette was a sobering experience for all of us. We recognize the gaps that need to be filled and acknowledge that there is much to be done. Our goal now is to make sure that we build more resilient power systems moving forward,” said Perdices.

During his talk, Perdices cited the advantage of moving utility lines underground, a project Visayan Electric and Davao Light have already jumpstarted in some areas of Cebu and Davao cities.

One of the advantages of the Underground Distribution System (UDS) is that it provides more reliable power because electricity trip-offs caused by trees, strong winds and lightning will no longer be a problem.

“We understand public clamor to move utility lines underground... We are open to discussions on expanding these projects to more parts of our franchise areas, cognizant that there are also non-technical challenges to be overcome such as traffic, localized disruption, and the need for robust future city planning,” said Perdices.

“Given the required investment for UDS, we are willing to explore mechanisms to make this commercially viable.”

UDS project in Cebu

The Visayan Electric UDS project in Cebu City consists of six phases and covers the Sinulog Grand Parade route in agreement with the Cebu City government.

Of the six phases, three phases have already been completed. The latest was Phase 3 which covers Imus Avenue, from the corner of Sikatuna St. to the corner of Gen. Maxilom Avenue, which is 890 meters. This was completed in 2021 at a total cost of P101.9 million.

Phase 2 which covers 600 meters from the corner of Osmeña Boulevard to the corner of Sikatuna St. was completed in 2018 at a total project cost of over P50 million; Phase 1B which covers 1,100 meters from the Fuente Osmeña Circle to the corner of P. del Rosario St. was completed in 2017 at a total cost of P65.5 million, and Phase 1A which covers 650 meters from the Capitol to the Fuente Osmeña Circle was completed in 2015 at a total cost of P96 million.

The three remaining phases have no completion schedule yet.

Meanwhile, restoring power supply in Odette-hit areas has not been a walk in the park.

AboitizPower subsidiary Visayan Electric Co., Cebu’s major electric distribution utility, saw its entire franchise area affected by the super typhoon.

“To date, we have assessed more than 2,500 damaged poles, around 450 broken distribution transformers, and over 330 circuit kilometers of downed power lines,” he said.

CPPC’s critical role, additional support

Besides exploring ways to continue the underground power project, Perdices also pointed out that investing in embedded generation facilities and exploring avenues for collaboration within the private sector are also among the ways they are looking to move forward after Odette.

At the onset of the re-energization, Perdices said AboitizPower’s oil-fired power plant, operated by Cebu Private Power Corp. (CPPC), played a crucial role in restoring power to vital institutions, prioritizing the energization of hospitals, water providers and other vital institutions in Cebu City.

“Because CPPC is embedded in the utility’s franchise area, the power it produces does not pass through transmission lines but rather goes straight to the circuits and customers of Visayan Electric,” said Perdices.

The AboitizPower official also lauded the 280 additional linemen from various distribution utilities and electric cooperatives who were sent to Cebu to augment the 308-strong Visayan Electric workforce working on the ground to fast-track the power restoration in its franchise area.

The webinar, organized by Liveable Cities Philippines, sought to address the steps needed to take to prepare for and build resilience against similar storms in the future or in other parts of the country.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting