Leyte plant shutdown plunges Visayas to darkness
Veco first to restore power in affected areas
Central and Eastern Visayas were plunged into darkness in yesterday’s pre-dawn hours after a power plant in Leyte tripped off, triggering a massive blackout.
The blackout that lasted from four to 10 hours affected Cebu, Bohol, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar.
According to Maria Rosette Martinez, spokesperson of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, a “change of system” caused the shutdown of the Tongonan Geothermal Plant.
The power plant, which is operated by Green Core, generates and supplies electricity in Kananga, Leyte and exports power to Cebu through the Leyte-Cebu interconnection project.
She said they are still investigating the cause of the line outage, but NGCP considers the incident an isolated case. She assured the public that the incident has nothing to do with a shortage in power supply expected this summer.
“It was really an isolated case. The cause of the line outage is still being investigated but we will update the public on this,” Martinez said.
Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla earlier warned the public to expect two-hour power interruptions this summer with the expected upsurge in power demand. He said at least 2-hour power interruptions will be experienced throughout the country, but not on a daily basis.
The Visayan Electric Co. (Veco) said areas affected by the outage were the central and northern f Cebu City, Mandaue City, Consolacion and Liloan while the southern part of Cebu City going to San Fernando town was not affected.
Theresa Sederiosa, Veco reputation manager, said the private utility immediately restored power after tapping alternate suppliers, Cebu Private Power Corporation (CPPC) and East Asia Utilities Corporation (EAUC).
She said 74 MW of lost power was restored as of 3:50 a.m.
“Feeders where hospitals are connected within our franchise area were the first to be energized,” she said.
As of 6:40 a.m. all feeders in Veco’s franchise area were energized with 60 MW of power sourced from CPPC as of 7:57 a.m.
Lowell Belciña, acting general manager of the Cebu Electric Power Cooperative (Cebeco 2) which covers Compostela to the northern part of the province (including Danao City, Bogo City and Tuburan were also affected. He said power was gradually back online at 6:30 a.m. and was totally restored at 8 a.m.
In Bohol, power was restored at past 10 a.m. The power situation in the province returned to normal at 11:45 a.m., the NGCP said.
Operations of some Business Process Outsourcing companies (BPOs) in Metro Cebu, which mostly operate in the night, were affected by the power failure.
Mike Barote, who works in a BPO firm at the Ayala Business Park said, they experienced two rounds of short brownouts – a 15-minute outage at around 2 a.m. and another at 4 a.m. He said operations ground to a halt as their building was not equipped with a power generating set.
Risa Coloyan, corporate communications supervisor of Veco, said the NGCP immediately informed them of the situation at the Tongonan Geothermal Plant and advised them to find an alternative source to fill up their 198 MW shortage.
At the time the power went off, demand for the VECO franchise area was estimated at 450 MW.
“We were informed that there was a problem with the supply coming in from Leyte, but we were not informed of the actual cause,” she said.
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