Saturday, July 24, 2010

Camiguin faces blackout, prompting Camelco to prepare contingency measures


A MAJOR power outage can happen anytime in Camiguin once the island's submarine cable is damaged.

"This is a serious cause for concern for all Camiguingnons," Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus M. Romualdo said since about a month ago, raising concern over the deteriorating condition of the island's submarine cable.

He said the island's undersea cable that linked power from the mainland Mindanao has only a lifetime of 25 years. The submarine cable was laid in 1987.

This prompted the Camiguin Electric Cooperative (Camelco) to conduct a series of public hearings in the five municipalities to appraise the people about the power situation in this island province and find solution to the problem.

Romualdo warned that unless remedies are taken now, Camiguin will be like Siargao island, which has just experienced prolonged blackout after its underwater power line was reportedly cut off due to wear and tear.

"We are not sure when it (blackout) will happen to us, it may be tonight, tomorrow or next year," the governor said at the public hearing conducted in Mahinog gym recently.

"But we are working as fast as we can to prepare for it," he added, aware that the situation could have serious repercussion in the island's economy.

Recently, the provincial government had purchased power generating sets to ensure uninterrupted power supply in Camiguin General Hospital.

"I want to ensure that if this happens, business would go on as usual in our hospital because life is important to me," the governor said in the local dialect.

For his part, Camelco manager Adrian A. Ebcas presented several options to solve the capacity requirement problem and probable blackouts.

One option, he said, is the immediate replacement of aging submarine cable with the installation of 13.2kv submarine cable including acquisition of 69 kv line, among others, to reduce systems loss.

He added this is also to save consumers from constant payment of Residual Connection Charges to National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

This, he said, will cost the electric cooperative over 400 million pesos in loans to finance the project and for the consumers to pay two pesos per kwhr more on its bill from the present ten pesos per kwhr to recover the investment cost.

Another option, he said, is that instead of buying power from the mainland, Camelco will just invite independent power producer (IPP) to build 8Mw Diesel Plant in Camiguin.

For this option, he said, electric consumers will bear the burden of paying additional six pesos per kwhr on top of the current rate.

On the other hand, Ebcas disclosed that Camiguin, according to the Department of Energy, has resource potential for wind energy sources that can be developed. These sources are situated in Lowan in the town of Mahinog.

This, if developed, could provide substantial power supply for Camiguin with a generation capacity from 15mw to 25 mw and could even export its excess power to the mainland.

Camiguin, as of now, has a power demand of 2.8Mw and is expected to reach by 7Mw in 15 years, it was learned.

Among the options, Ebcas said the best way to cope with the situation is to install a new submarine cable to replace the old ones, adding submarine cable is also necessary once Camiguin will finally have its own source of wind energy and export power to the mainland.

"This will yield additional revenues not only to Camelco, but also to local government units concerned" the Camelco manager said.


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