CEBU CITY, Philippines – “We are confident that we will have sufficient power on election day.”
Engineer William Carido, senior science specialist from the Department of Energy (DOE) in the Visayas, gave this assurance on Friday, April 22, just two weeks before the May 9 elections.
May 9 is a holiday, and the day before it is a Sunday, so the city has more electricity reserve, Carido said in a mix of Cebuano and English at a forum organized by Philippine Information Agency.
He said the Visayan Electric Company (VECO) and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) had assured them that there won’t be power interruptions before and on election day.
Based on the NGCP’s power outlook that the DOE is reviewing, as well as the Power Task Force Election (PTFE) 2016, Visayas has about 200 megawatts of reserved power to be used between May 8 and 10.
While the NGCP issued a yellow alert due to tight energy supply in April, the DOE said it doesn’t mean that there is a threat of rotational blackouts.
“We have two task forces that are looking into the integrity of the power supply chain to secure the supply of electricity particularly during the period one week before and one week after the election day, especially within and near the voting precincts,” Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada said a press statement.
But Gerardo Torres, the NGCP head for Visayas Operations and Maintenance, presented a contingency plan for 2016 elections in case of power shortage. He attested to the readiness of command centers, control centers and substations, transmissions, control and communication facilities.
VECO system operations head Juan Miguel Exaltacion said that, out of 229 public schools in Cebu, about 55 – or 25% – were checked to ensure power could support the number of vote-counting machines that would be used per precinct.
“Massive electricity line-clearing operations, checking school’s transformers and electric connections, and removal of campaign posters in electric posts have been going on for a while now,” Exaltacion said.
Exaltacion also discouraged kite flying on election day. VECO records show that kites entangled in power lines caused 87.54 hours of power outages in April and 47.9 hours in March.
Comelec regional director Jose Mendros said that aside from VECO’s standby 5-kW mobile generators, the commission distributed to different areas around Cebu 12-volt extra batteries that can last for 12 hours.
“The ratio of the battery to each machine is 1:1, so each machine has one extra battery, but no need to worry because we have alternative contingency machines,” he said.
The Freeman reported in 2013 that the energy department predicted a “massive power shortage in 2016 and the most critical period in 2020” if no power plants are built by that time.
According to NGCP, however, this did not happen because power has been augmented from Luzon. – Rappler.com
Kent Pepito is a Rappler intern