Isolated outages fail to disrupt voting
MANILA, Philippines—Isolated outages in the country did not disrupt voting on Election Day, as the energy department said the overall power supply was normal.
Intermittent power outages starting Sunday night hit various areas in northern and central Luzon on Monday.
A thunderstorm and heavy rains caused power failures in some parts of Benguet province, causing some counting machines to malfunction in Bakun town.
Power failure was reported in some villages in Tuba, Kapangan and Itogon, which caused delays in voting.
A power interruption between 4:50 a.m. and 5:20 a.m. happened in Balanga City.
Within the franchise area of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the only major disturbance recorded was the tripping of a National Grid Corp. of the Philippines-owned transmission line, which caused outages in four polling centers in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
The situation was resolved by 2:30 p.m. of Monday.
Brownouts were also reported in Batangas, Laguna and Catanduanes provinces, but these did not last more than an hour.
The brownout that hit the cities of Lipa and Tanauan and towns of Malvar, Talisay and Laurel in Batangas lasted only from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., caused by tripping of Makban 100MVA TO1 Line in Bay town in Laguna, said Octave Mendoza, general manager of Batangas Electric Cooperative.
Elections were not affected in these areas since the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines operated using back-up batteries.
Brief power interruptions were also reported in Barangay (village) Bucal in Calamba City and in Virac, Catanduanes.
Minor outages hit at least three Mindanao areas on Monday but these barely affected the conduct of the balloting, the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) reported.
In an e-mailed report, which was also furnished the Inquirer, Minda said the power outage that hit Barangay Luinab in Iligan City until 1:15 p.m. was caused by a fallen electric post.
The power interruption in Luinab did not have any effect on the voting in Iligan as there were no polling precincts in the area, Minda said.
Malacañang’s development arm in Mindanao said “several far-flung villages” of San Isidro in Davao del Norte also experienced power outage for nearly an hour starting 11:47 a.m.
Minda did not mention the cause of the power disruption in the villages but said that the Davao del Norte Electric Coop. was able to restore full power supply by 12:33 p.m.
Also, for five minutes, power was out in Zamboaga City “due to a transient fault along distribution line,” the agency said.
On Saturday, Minda said that Mindanao would not be experiencing outages on Monday because there was a power supply surplus.
Since late February, the 21.8 million people of Mindanao have been experiencing power outages—lasting up to eight hours in some areas—due to the low level of water at Lake Lanao. The lake fires up the Agus hydropower plants which, along with the Pulangui hydropower system in Bukidnon, provide about 70 percent of the island’s electricity supply.
“The power demand in Mindanao on Monday is pegged at around 1,126 megawatts, while the projected supply is at 1,330 MW,” Montenegro said.
But Montenegro said technical problems, which are beyond their control, could cause power outages.
“Although we’re comfortable that measures had been put in place to ensure that Mindanao will have enough power supply on Monday, we could not discount any possibility of outages arising from various causes,” he said.
Irma Exconde, assistant director at the Electric Power Industry Management Bureau at the Department of Energy (DOE), said in a briefing that the power supply was “normal as we expected.”
As of 5 p.m. Monday, power supply reserves in Luzon remained huge at 3,950 MW; 725 MW in Visayas; and 172 MW in Mindanao, Exconde said.
“Although there were some locations that were reported to have experienced power outages, the Election Power Task Force emphasizes that appropriate action was promptly undertaken and power was restored immediately in these areas through the coordinated efforts of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, electric cooperatives and distribution utilities,” the DOE said.
Exconde explained that the power outages reported on Monday were due mainly to transmission problems, internal incidents and a heavy downpour in certain areas, and not due to supply and generation problems. These, however, were easily resolved, as most outages lasted only within a few minutes, while the longest recorded was about three hours.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, the only remaining outages were those in Lanao del Norte and Sultan Kudarat, where 69-kilovolt transmission lines tripped. This, however, did not affect any polling centers or precincts in the area.
The comfortable reserves level in Luzon may have been partly boosted with the commercial operation of the 600-MW coal-fired power plant of GN Power in Mariveles, Bataan, which started contributing 490 MW to the Luzon grid only last Saturday.
Mindanao’s rosy power supply situation was boosted by the 26 MW coming from the Alcantara-led Mapalad diesel power facility and by the 5 MW of additional capacity contributed by Bukidnon-based sugar miller Crystal Sugar Co. Inc.
“At the distribution level, Meralco as well as other private distribution utilities and electric cooperatives nationwide are on heightened alert to respond immediately should there be reports of power interruptions in polling precincts and canvassing centers,” the DOE said.—Reports from Inquirer Northern Luzon; Inquirer Central Luzon; Mar Arguelles, Juan Escandor Jr., Shiena Barrameda, Fernan Gianan, Maricar Cinco, Romulo Ponte, Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Marrah Lesaba, Jerome Balinton, Madonna T. Virola, Jofel Lancion, Gerald Querubin, Redempto Anda, Janna Golod, Joy Oyardo, Aycel Narvaez, Christian Taduran, Loen Gonzales and Dyna Apatin, Inquirer Southern Luzon; and Kaiza Marie Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao
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