How to make power lines disaster-proof? Put them underground
MANILA, Philippines – After recommending to President Benigno Aquino III to declare a power emergency over the thin supply outlook for 2015, the Department of Energy (DOE) is also seriously looking at the possibility of relocating vital power lines underground to protect them from damage during typhoons.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla disclosed the plan as Luzon suffered rotating blackouts following the destruction caused by Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun) last week. Glenda wreaked havoc on power and transmission lines in the region, cutting power supply to nearly 90% of customers of main power distributor Manila Electric Company (Meralco).
But Petilla said their main concern was cost.
“During Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), we already thought of that. In fact, we are already implementing pilot projects in some areas hit by Yolanda. Those along the main roads can still be put up, but those located in narrow roads should already be put underground,” Petilla said in an interview Tuesday, July 22.
He said underground cables would cost “5 times” the usual because they are earthquake-proof and more difficult to maintain and repair.
The government may provide financial assistance but “we need to know exactly the cost involved here,” Petilla said. “The idea is there. The concerns mainly revolve on cost. That is what we are trying to study right now.”
Last week, at least 1,500 transmission lines of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines sustained heavy damage due to Glenda. The repair of the 69-kilovolt lines would take two weeks, Petilla said.
The distribution lines of Meralco were also not spared.
The typhoon also damaged more than 12 power plants in Luzon. “There were actually 8 power plants but some of them have more than one unit so if we count them, the power plants affected will total to more than 12,” Petilla explained.
Among those damaged include the:
- 1271-megawatt (MW) Ilijan natural gas power plant in Batangas
- 1000-MW Sta. Rita natural gas plant in Batangas
- 647-MW unit of the 1,294-MW Sual coal plant in Pangasinan
- 511-MW Quezon Power coal plant
- 500-MW San Lorenzo natural gas plant in Batangas
Meralco said that as of July 21, 95% of its customers got their power back, and there were only a few isolated outages.
Lopez-led First Gen Corporation said its Sta. Rita and one unit of the San Lorenzo plant were also back online.
“All 4 units of the Sta. Rita plant have been returned to operation. On the San Lorenzo plant's two units, one unit has successfully resumed operation, while restoration works are being undertaken on the other unit,” it said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange. – Rappler.com