3 million families affected by power outages due to Odette; floods stalling repairs
MANILA, Philippines — More than 3 million families were affected by power outages caused by the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai), mostly in the Visayas and Mindanao, with efforts to restore electricity in many grids still proving difficult with the floods yet to subside in many areas.
As of Saturday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said power interruptions were still being experienced in the provinces of Antique, Iloilo, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Davao Oriental. Also, supply was still down in Bohol, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Surigao del Norte.
Transmission services were fully restored in Capiz, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental and Zamboanga del Sur.
As of this writing, restoration activities were in progress on the entire islands of Samar, Leyte and Negros, and in Bohol Cebu, Iloilo, Antique, Surigao and Agusan provinces, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Lanao del Norte and Misamis Occidental.
As for small power utility groups operating under the National Power Corp. (Napocor), 31 were still not operating either due to faulty lines or emergency plant shutdown. There were 20 69-kilovolt transmission lines in the Visayas and five 69-kV transmission lines in Mindanao that remained inoperable, denying supply to 30 electric cooperatives in those two major island groups.
In Mindanao alone, 28 138-kV lines have yet to resume transmission for the supply in the entire Surigao del Norte, Bohol, Leyte, and Samar Islands, parts of Surigao del Sur and parts of Agusan del Sur.
Toppled poles, towers
The NGCP said at least 134 electrical poles in Surigao del Norte alone were toppled by the typhoon. In the Visayas, an inspection on Saturday initially listed four toppled towers, two toppled poles and one leaning pole.
Odette’s damage on transmission lines affected even some provinces that were not directly hit by the typhoon, according to Artis Nikki Tortola, deputy administrator of the National Electrification Administration.
Electric cooperatives are still waiting for transmission lines to be repaired to receive power from their respective sources, Tortola said in a phone interview.
Energy Undersecretary William Fuentebella earlier said the agency could not give an assurance that power would be restored in all these areas before Christmas, as local conditions should first be safe enough for the engineers and linemen to be deployed.
In a meeting with President Duterte on Friday night, Fuentebella again expressed concern over the COVID-19 vaccines being stored in areas hit by the blackouts.
“The [generator sets] in the areas where the vaccines are stored might not last,” he said.
As for fuel supply, reports from oil companies indicated a sufficient inventory in the affected regions, the Department of Energy said in a statement late Saturday.
The whole country may count on a buffer supply good for 29.4 days, it added.
However, there were 159 oil retail outlets in the affected regions that were forced to close due to power outages, flooding, structural damage or limited manpower.
Six bulk facilities in Cebu, Negros Occidental, Palawan and Aklan were also forced to stop operation, while three oil depots in Bohol and Cebu and a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) refilling plant in Davao del Sur could not be immediately contacted.
Following the declaration of a state of calamity in Bohol, Butuan City, and Cebu, the government has implemented a price freeze on household LPG and kerosene in these areas. —WITH A REPORT FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA
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