MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) assured residents of areas affected by Typhoon Odette (Rai) that it would do its best to restore electricity by Christmastime.
In a briefing Friday, December 17, the DOE said that the onslaught of the typhoon affected power lines more than generation facilities. This means that power from plants could not be transferred, resulting in blackouts.
In its update, system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said that transmission services in Biliran, Bohol, Camiguin, and Surigao del Norte were offline as of Friday, 9 am.
There is also no electricity in parts of Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Eastern Samar in the Visayas and Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, and Davao Oriental in Mindanao.
The National Electrification Administration has yet to provide an estimated number of affected households.
Asked if electricity could be back by Christmas, NGCP engineering project management head Randy Galang said that it was difficult to provide a timeline for repairs as of the moment.
“At this point, talagang hindi pa kami makakapagbigay ng definite timeline kasi ‘di pa kompleto sa amin ‘yung complete picture. ‘Di pa namin nakikita ang extent nung damage. Nagsisimula pa lang ang assessment,” said Galang.
(At this point, it’s really difficult to provide a definite timeline [of the repairs] because we don’t have the complete picture yet. We have yet to know the extent of the damage. We only started the assessment.)
Galang said that inspection was supposed to be done on Friday, but halfway to the Visayas, strong winds forced the team to return to Manila.
But DOE Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said that the agencies and operators involved will “do their best” to make sure that lights are on by Christmas.
“The Department of Energy together with the Task Force on Energy Resiliency is on board to make sure that they will do our best to provide the services immediately… We are looking at it and hopefully, by Christmas, the transmission, distribute, and power plants side are all back on track,” said Fuentebella in a mix of English and Filipino.
Fuentebella also said that the department is “closely monitoring” the situation on the ground so that vaccine storage will have power. As of now, there is no word yet on the situation of vaccines in affected areas.
“We’re also focusing on preserving and making sure that the vaccines are all safe so that we can continue our fight against COVID,” said Fuentebella.
Given the outages, the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) said that spot market operations in the Visayas were suspended as of 7:42 pm on Thursday, December 16. Power was priced at P5.42 per kilowatt-hour during the suspension.
IEMOP also said that the Visayas was not exporting power to Luzon as of 9:40 pm on Thursday. Normally, the Visayas add 420 megawatts of capacity to the Luzon grid.
As of 8 am on Friday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration said that Typhoon Odette has started passing over the Sulu Sea bound for Palawan.
Odette has made landfall eight times and it could make another one in Palawan on Friday. The typhoon has caused massive floods and left destruction in its wake. – Rappler.com