DOE seeks more power investments in Visayas

·3 min read

HAVING equally distributed power plants in the country could help prevent a blackout from occurring, an official of the Department of Energy (DOE) said.

In a recent power forum hosted by the Cebu IT-BPM Organization, engineer Jose Rey Maleza, DOE Visayas Energy Industry Division Management chief, emphasized the importance of strategic locations of power plants to ensure power reserves and prevent future power outages.

“It is not only about the technical problem, but we also found something on the location of the plants vis-à-vis the area where the demand is concentrated,” said Maleza, referring to the Aug. 20, 2021 massive power outage, which started at 11:56 p.m. in some parts of Cebu, Leyte, Samar and Bohol.

The four-hour unscheduled power interruption was caused by a lightning strike, according to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), a reason the DOE has not formally accepted.

“Initial finding points a lightning strike caused the simultaneous tripping of the Colon-Cebu 138kV Lines 1, 2 and 3 and Colon-Quiot 138kV Line, which triggered the power interruption,” the NGCP posted on its Facebook page on Aug. 21.

The power outage reportedly cost Cebu’s information technology and business process management industry some P60 to P80 million in losses in production output.

Power-intensive industries inside the Mactan Economic Zone also experienced downtime in production and damage in products and equipment.

Unfortunately, Maleza said, the large power plants in Cebu Province are all located in the south, the reason there was not enough power reserve to provide for other affected areas in the north, except for Leyte and Luzon, whose power supply were also not enough to power up the island province because of its limited transfer capacity.

Maleza is encouraging more investments in power and having them strategically located as recommended under the revised Philippine Energy Plan.

But factors like licensing and permits should be fast- tracked and the availability and proximity of the location to the nearest tapping point should also be addressed.

“These things are now being considered, and that’s one of the reasons we like to offer opportunities for investment in other parts of the area wherein we can strategically locate our power plants,” he said.

The DOE, Maleza added, has already signed a memorandum with the Department of the Interior and Local Government to speed up the processing of permits and licenses of new power investments based on the Energy Virtual One Stop Shop Act passed in 2019.

Engineer Gilbert Pagobo, Mactan Electric Company general manager, in the same forum, said part of the firm’s long-term plan is to put up a power plant on Mactan Island so it can supply power independently.

Visayas power demand in 2020 stood at 2,201 megawatts (MW). Peak demand was recorded on Jan. 29, 2020 at 2,186 MW prior to the announcement of the global health crisis. Visayas’ total installed capacity was at 3,814 MW with a 3,333MW dependable capacity.

The DOE forecasts minimal power interruption from 2020 to 2040 provided that all generating plants are operating and indicative power plants will operate as scheduled. (JOB with KOC)

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