Bohol Governor Edgar M. Chatto is still keen on bringing to Bohol two power barges even if substantial emergency electricity from Leyte will have been available, or the restoration of the quake-damaged NGCP facilities there completed.
The governor already directed all concerned agencies and distribution utilities on the preparation of the mooring sites either in Cortes, Maribojoc, Tagbilaran City, Loon, Getafe or Ubay, whichever are two most technically feasible, quickly ready.
Heeding to Chatto’s call, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) on Friday declared Bohol in a state of calamity due to the economic and living condition impacts of the energy crisis caused by total power loss resulting from the strong earthquake in Leyte.
Led by Board Member Kristine Alexie Tutor as acting presiding officer, the provincial board, still on Chatto’s request, also asked Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and all concerned agencies to subsidize the generation, transmission and distribution costs of the urgent, interim electricity.
The power barges are coming from Iloilo and General Santos City the soonest possible time after the sealing of agreements between the local power distribution utilities (DUs) and power barge owners.
To generate 20 megawatts and 26 megawatts, respectively, the first barge is owned by Trans-Asia/PHINMA and the other by Salcon Power Corp. (SPC).
The transport, pricing and other terms and conditions of the use of the barges were discussed in the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG) meeting led by Chatto at the Governor’s Mansion on Tuesday.
The meeting was attended by Bohol Electric Cooperative (BOHECO I) Gen. Man. Dino Nicolas Roxas, BOHECO II Gen. Man. Eugene Tan, Bohol Light Company. Inc. (BLCI) Gen. Man. Eulogio Signe, Tran-Asia/PHINMA Energy Senior Vice Pres. Rizalino Santos and SPC-Power Vice Pres. for Business Development Cesar Villegas, among others.
FULL SUPPORT TO BOHOL NEEDS
Consistent in his full support to Bohol needs, Department of Energy (DOE) Sec. Alfonso Cusi assured Chatto he would do all to hasten the transport and operation of the power barges.
The governor swiftly informed the secretary of his and BEDAG’s decision to take in the two power barges following the crucial meeting with the owners of the facilities.
Cusi and Chatto have been coordinating in the strong lobby with such agencies as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to “waive” in the meantime the documentation, standard regulation procedure.
The governor asked to authorize the mobilization of the facilities while documentation, permits and clearances, including DENR requirements, are still on the process of compliance.
Likewise, he asked help in getting support from the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) to defray the costs of the power barge mobilization and mooring site emergency improvement.
Chatto would want to lessen the emergency electricity charges passed on to the consumers at this time of crisis.
The energy secretary said he “will do as requested” by the Bohol governor.
Usec. Ricardo Jalad, NDCC executive director, assured the governor there is no problem with the National Electrification (NEA), from which the local distribution utilities will avail of a loan to address the emergency situation.
The NEA financing will later be converted into a subsidy, tapping the allocation from the NDCC.
Also, Jalad directed the regional director of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) to link with the governor and the people he has tasked.
Chatto had himself talked with Jalad and NEA Administrator Ed Masongso in Manila Friday night after the governor’s separate NGCP meeting in the morning—when the by-pass line in Leyte was about to transmit initial power to parts in Leyte, Samar, Biliran and Bohol.
Chatto asked the NGCP to prioritize the BOHECO II area in the little share of Bohol from the by-pass emergency electricity.
Unlike the BOHECO I areas and BLCI franchise area of Tagbilaran City which have limited, rationed power, the 21 towns under BOHECO II have been in blackout since the earthquake tore Leyte.
NGCP regional media handler Betty Martinez explained that BOHECO II was supplied first also because it is nearest to NGCP’s substation in Ubay from Leyte.
Since “the allocation for Bohol was still very minimal at the onset, extending the power to our Corella substation and Tagbilaran substation immediately would have resulted in voltage issue,”
As supply increases, then it becomes technically possible to extend power farther with the voltage at the mandated level per Philippine Grid Code, Martinez said on her facebook post tagged to her select Bohol media friends.
POWER BARGE MOBILIZATION
The Trans-Asia can mobilize its Iloilo power barge in three days to a week, provided that the mooring site, which can be the Catagbacan port in Loon, is ready.
The SPC barge in General Santos City is to be mobilized in three weeks and stationed in Bohol as a peak load back-up even after the Leyte power will have again come in already.
Although each has a capacity of 32 megwatts, the Trans-Asia barge will only generate 20 megawatts while the SPC facility can produce 26 megawatts.
According to Engr. Virgilio Sanchez, operations and maintenance chief of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in the Visayas, the Leyte restoration works can still run to four to six weeks.
Sanchez, whose wife by maiden name Lungay is a Boholana, led the NGCP officials who also attended the crucial BEDAG meeting with the power barge officials.
Further, the meeting was attended by Acting Provincial Administrator John Mitchel Boiser, Board Members Ricky Masamayor and Abeleon Damalerio.
Also present, Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCC) Exec. Vice Pres. Argeo Melisimo said he would report in the BCCI meeting the next day what major points transpired in the BEDAG conference.
DECLARATION FOR QUICK RESPONSE
Bohol’s declaration of a state of calamity will help the local and national agencies respond quickly to the running crisis, according to DOE Usec. Wimpy Fuentebella.
After a week of scarce electricity and water Bohol-wide, the declaration will enable the local and national agencies to use resources, avail of outside support and be more flexible in responding.
The actions Bohol has taken will enable the province to be more resilient, Fuentebella said.
Chatto said Bohol is thankful to the national government and both the local and national energy sectors for working hard in assisting the Boholanos.
The provincial board agreed with the governor that in including Bohol in the national subsidy for power generation-transmission-distribution cost, the impact of the electricity rate on the consumers will be lessened.
While Bohol has both factual and actual bases, the latter referring to the suffering of the people from rationed electricity to none at all, Board Member Tomas Abapo, Jr. cited a legal basis further justifying the governor’s call to declare Bohol under a state of calamity.
Abapo said that based on NDCC Memo Order No. 4, Series of 1998, a place can be declared in a state of calamity when there is “disruption of lifelines such as electricity, potable water, transport system” that cannot be fixed in “a week.”
Power industry keyplayers hailed capitol’s initiatives, citing the truly burdensome add-on charges passed on to the consumers as a result of the use of expensive technology in generating electricity.
This even if the Boholanos have seemed willing to pay the high cost of emergency power as long as electricity is available at this time of serious energy crisis.
BARGE ALSO FOR PEAKLOAD SUPPORT
At the BEDAG meeting, the power barge of the SPC was further offered to stay in Bohol even long after the total Leyte power transmission restoration and until the Bohol island-based large-scale power generation plant will have been completed by 2023.
While it can also be used for back-up loading at peak load time, there is no “special pricing” to be asked by the owner during times when it is not used because the facility is only “charged as used.”
This means that the Boholanos will only pay the electricity they consume from the barge and not to also pay the cost of its continuous stay here during periods when it is not used.
Chatto’s meeting with the NGCP in Manila Friday also intended to finalize the terms of reference for the aggregate power purchase by the BOHECO I and II and BLCI under the “One Bohol Power” scheme as strategized in the BEDAG masterplan.
Once the agreement among the three utilities is sealed, they will open their bulk power purchase to the power providers or investing power developers that will supply electricity.
The meeting was attended by NGCP’s Atty. Cynthia Alabanza, and BLCI’s Atty. Lot Camenero, Mike Ancheta and Signe, the general manager.
BOHECO I and II are just awaiting the final remaining issues ironed out in the side of the BLCI en route to the signing of their “One Bohol Power” agreement.
Once the agreement among the three utilities is sealed, they will open their bulk power purchase for bidding by the power providers or investing power developers that will supply electricity.
One of the major term of reference is for the winning bidder to build its large-scale power generation plant right in Bohol for reliable, resilient and sustainable power supply already available by 2024.
The existing power supply contracts of BOHECO I and II and BLCI with their respective providers from outside of the province will expire in December, 2023.
Only the Chatto administration has planned—and is now surely pursuing—to build a major- huge-capacity power generation facility in Bohol for permanent, long-term electricity produced and available home.
While the power plant is yet to be built starting 2019, the Cebu-Bohol power interconnection will have been completed by 2020.
The Cebu-Leyte interconnection can transmit for sale outside Bohol of any excess electricity produced by the big inland power generation plant by 2024.
In due time, Bohol will cease to be a power receiver and become a power industry player, Chatto said. (VEN C. ARIGO)