MANILA, Philippines – Is the Deparment of Energy (DOE) on track in restoring power in areas struck by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) by Christmas eve?
There’s “a good chance” it will meet the target “but not 100% sure,” said DOE Secretary Jericho Carlos Petilla, who earlier vowed to resign if power isn’t restored in devastated Visayas areas by December 24.
To date, less than 50% of the damaged transmission and distribution facilities have been repaired, Petilla said in a press briefing on Monday, December 2.
“We’re moving fast. We seem to be on track. There’s a good chance I still have a job by Decmber 25 – a good chance, but not 100% sure,” Petilla said.
The energy secretary’s vow to resign came after the announcement of the National Grid Corporation (NGCP) in November that it would take 5 to 6 weeks to fully restore power in Visayas.
More than 50% of the transmission facilities are operational again, while less than 50% of the distribution facilities are repaired. “It’s possible distribution facilities have been repaired but the transmission lines remain damaged,” Petilla said in a mix of Filipino and English.
At the pace the energy department and its attached agencies are working, it is possible that most typhoon-hit areas will be lighted before Christmas, Petilla said.
However, he acknowledged that the entire Eastern Samar provice and the municipality of Isabel in Leyte may have a dark Christmas “simply because there are so many posts that were damaged.”
There are areas, however, that will have power even before December 24. One of them will be Kalibo, Aklan.
“It will be earlier for some, later for some, so it averages out,” Petilla said.
The energy secretary said a 100% electrification for the entire Visayas cannot be promised since, historically, Eastern Visayas is struck by typhoons during December.
Restoration of transmission and distribution facilities will cost some P6.5 billion – P5 billion for damaged distribution facilities and more than P1 billion incurred by the NGCP, according to Petilla.
The energy chief said his department is discussing with the President’s legal counsel whether Malampaya proceeds can be tapped to pay for the repair of power facilities.
Petilla earlier said he was mulling the option of using Malampaya funds for restoration of power facilities instead of passing on the costs to consumers, but the suggestion was met with hesitation by the President’s legal team.
“Anything that won’t be covered by the government will be charged to consumers, with the approval of the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission), of course,” said Petilla. – Rappler.com
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