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Dark New Year looms in Bicol

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Dark New Year looms in Bicol

Rehab of power lines in typhoon-hit areas to take weeks, power co-ops say
By: - Correspondent / @msarguellesINQ
/ 12:15 AM December 30, 2016
Strong winds accompanying Typhoon “Nina” damaged power lines in Tiwi town in Albay province. —GEORGE GIO BRONDIAL

Strong winds accompanying Typhoon “Nina” damaged power lines in Tiwi town in Albay province. —GEORGE GIO BRONDIAL

LEGAZPI CITY—After enduring a wet Christmas due to Typhoon “Nina” (international name: Nock-ten), thousands of residents in the Bicol region are spending a dark New Year.

Nina’s strong winds toppled electric posts and cut power transmission lines in Bicol as the typhoon crossed several provinces in southern Luzon.

The destruction was massive and widespread, prompting local government officials and electric cooperatives in the region to seek help from the Department of Energy (DOE) and power cooperatives in provinces not affected by the typhoon.

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Carlos Larosa, Albay Power and Energy Corp. (Apec) manager, said the typhoon destroyed transmission lines in the towns of Tiwi, Malinao, Malillipot, Bacacay and Sto. Domingo and Tabaco City in Albay’s first congressional district. Also without electricity are the towns of Libon, Polangui, Oas, Pio Duran, Jovellar, Guinobatan and Ligao City in the third district.

“Power restoration in the heavily damaged areas is being fast-tracked, but this would take [at least] 15 days. Power would resume by Jan. 15 next year,” Larosa said.

The transmission lines in the towns of Daraga, Camalig, Manito, Rapu-rapu and Legazpi City were slightly damaged and repair work in these areas was completed two days after the typhoon struck.

Larosa said restoration efforts, however, would depend on how fast the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) could repair its transmission lines and towers that were toppled as Nina pounded  Bicol.

He said more than 200,000 households in 15 towns and three cities in Albay were affected by the power cutoff.

Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara said Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi had informed him that the DOE had mobilized the Task Force “Kapatid” to assist electricity distributors in typhoon-stricken areas.

Larosa said teams from Meralco, Aboitiz and three other electric cooperatives from other regions arrived in Albay on Thursday to help in restoration work.

He said Apec would spend P77.3 million to restore 69.47 kilometers of transmission lines, put up 950 electric poles and fix transformers.

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Patria Gutierrez, Apec public affairs consultant, assured that power would be restored fully in Legazpi City, the business center of Albay, and the neighboring town of Daraga as power lines in these areas incurred minor damage.

Restoration of electricity supply in Catanduanes, which was cut by the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative on Dec. 24 as precaution against the typhoon, could take at least a month due to heavy damage, local officials said.

In Marinduque province, Gaudencio Sol Jr., general manager of the Marinduque Electric Cooperative (Marelco), said they could not finish restoration by Dec. 30.

“With the magnitude of the damage caused by the typhoon, it would be impossible to restore electricity in that short period of time,” Sol said.

Sol said Marelco would need two to three weeks to complete the restoration but assured that supply would be back soon in the capital town of Boac.

The provincial boards of Albay, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes, the areas that bore the brunt of the devastation, placed their respective provinces under a state of calamity after the typhoon battered the region on Christmas Day.

The provinces of Quezon, Oriental Mindoro and Marinduque were also placed under a state of calamity this week.

Typhoon damage in Marinduque has reached more than P1 billion.

Rolando Josue, Marinduque disaster risk reduction and management council  chief, said on top of food and water supply,  residents needed construction materials to rebuild their homes. —WITH REPORTS FROM JOFEL JOYCE LANCION, MARICAR CINCO AND FERNAN GIANAN

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TAGS: Albay, Albay Power, Albay province, APEC, Bacacay, Bicol Region, Carlos Larosa, Energy Corp., Guinobatan, Jovellar, Libon, Ligao City, Malillipot, Malinao, New Year’s eve, Oas, Paskong pinoy, Pio Duran, Polangui, Sto. Domingo, Tabaco City, Tiwi, Tiwi town, Typhoon Nina
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