6-hr brownouts plague Catanduanes | Inquirer News

6-hr brownouts plague Catanduanes

By: - Correspondent / @InquirerSLB
/ 04:04 PM May 07, 2012

VIRAC, Catanduanes–Just three days after President Benigno Aquino III led the ceremonial switch-on of the much-touted mini-hydroelectric plants of Sunwest Water and Electric Co. here, the entire Catanduanes grid began experiencing six-hour brownouts beginning Saturday when a bunker-fuel generating set conked out and the three hydro power plants on stream failed to deliver due to low water levels.

The First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative Inc. (Ficelco) began implementing “load shedding” in all 11 towns after the 3.6-megawatt generator set of the Catanduanes Power Generation Inc. (CPGI) broke down.

This immediately took out 2.5 MW from the grid, resulting in a deficiency of 2 MW during peak load and 1 MW during off-peak hours.


Despite its admitted lack of funds for the continued operation of its genset, CPGI recently resumed power generation, although for 10 to 11 hours daily, after shutting it down for a few weeks.


An official of the cooperative, who requested anonymity as he was not authorized to disclose details, told the INQUIRER last weekend that the company sent technicians from Manila to repair the genset.

“The CPGI plant was repaired Sunday night but it operated for only two hours while unannounced, short duration brownouts continued to be experienced,” said this coop official.

Edwin Tatel, plant supervisor of the National Power Corporation’s (Napocor) Catanduanes grid, revealed that Sunwest’s three mini-hydro power plants–Solong, Hitoma I and Balongbong–have been contributing barely 25 percent of its nominal capability due to low water levels in their respective reservoirs brought about by the lack of rain in past weeks.

The trio account for 80 percent of the total power demand during rainy days when they deliver a total of 5.4 MW.

Part of the slack is taken up by the Monark mobile gensets which is rented by Napocor at high cost and operating for at least 12 hours daily as per contract.

Napocor officials have said that should CPGI’s genset be sidelined, the Monark gensets would be operated beyond the contracted hours but this would severely impact Napocor’s budgetary allocations for the Catanduanes grid.


Among the issues presented to Malacañang officials for possible consideration by the President during his May 2 visit here were the possibility of the Department of Budget and Management’s restoring the budget for the aborted purchase of three new diesel gensets for Napocor’s Marinawa plant and funding for the 69-KV transmission line.

The request for the restoration of the genset funding was allegedly set aside but Governor Joseph Cua said he was able to ask the President to reconsider the provision of P250 million for the transmission line, with the matter referred to Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras during Cua’s brief conversation with Mr. Aquino during the latter’s visit in the province for the inauguration of the state-of the-art Doppler radar in Bato town.

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The island grid has around 35,000 member-consumers paying probably one of the highest power costs in the country at about P12 per kilowatt hour despite the operation of the three hydro plants.

TAGS: Brownout, Electricity, Energy, Government, News, power, Regions

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