Meralco: Millions still in the dark; trying best
Power and social media outage hit large swaths of the country, with millions of Filipinos losing access to Internet and text messaging services as Typhoon “Glenda” barreled through Luzon on Tuesday and Wednesday, toppling transmission lines.
At least 13.5 million people had no electricity, authorities on Wednesday said.
The National Electrification Administration (NEA) said about 9 million people in southern Luzon and portions of the Visayas lost power.
In Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, the franchise area of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), about 4.5 million people suffered outages.
Meralco said full restoration of power would take some time.
As of 4 p.m., the utility firm said power had been restored to just 26 percent of its franchise area.
“We are targeting 60 percent power in Metro Manila by the end of the day (Wednesday midnight),” Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said via text message on Wednesday early evening.
“Target dates for the rest of the areas (southern Luzon and parts of the Visayas) will follow once we have more information on assessment,” Petilla said.
As of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Meralco said outages due to disrupted power transmission affected 86 percent of its franchise area, particularly the eastern and southern parts.
That translates to about 4.5 million people in Metro Manila and Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Quezon provinces as well as Binangonan, Morong, Tanay, Pililia and Jala-jala towns in Rizal province.
Meralco earlier gave a “broad” estimate that 90 percent of its franchise area, equivalent to about 5.3 million people, was without electricity. Meralco’s total network covers 5.5 million people.
The first power interruptions in the Meralco franchise area were reported as early as Tuesday afternoon, with more outages being reported as Glenda drew nearer.
Nearly 24 hours after the first power interruptions were reported, Meralco could not say when power would be fully restored to its customers.
The Department of Energy (DOE) earlier reported that the Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions were also without power, but it gave no estimates of the number of households affected or any indication as to when power would be restored.
Meralco confirmed earlier reports that the transmission lines of National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) in the southern Luzon grid was down.
“Due to the outages of vital NGCP transmission lines, generation plants in the south are unable to deliver power to Meralco,” said the country’s largest distribution utility.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Bicol region was still without power. Transmission lines conveying power to the region from energy suppliers in Luzon were knocked down on Tuesday night.
Mylene C. Capongcol, director of DOE’s Power Industry Management Bureau, said in a text message earlier on Wednesday that 17 transmission lines with a total capacity of 230 kilovolts shut down in Bicol, isolating the region from energy suppliers since Tuesday night.
“Total blackout still in Bicol and Southern Tagalog,” Capongcol said.
A 350-kV direct current line connecting Luzon with the Visayas was also out of commission, along with the 500-kV Tayabas-Ilijan line. Also out of service were the 69-kV lines in Samar and Sorsogon provinces.
The DOE was coordinating with electricity cooperatives to assess their status amid strong winds and rain, Capongcol said.
“QPL (Quezon Power Philippines) is surely down. Ilijan, Sta. Rita, and San Lorenzo advised that they will shut down if necessary,” Petilla said early Wednesday.
“However, we don’t have any load (demand) right now in NCR [National Capital Region or Metro Manila] and south Luzon either because lines are down on purpose or because lines have been toppled.”
QPL operates a 511-megawatt coal-fired power plant. Ilijan is a natural gas-fired power plant of Kepco Ilijan Corp. in Batangas City, with a nominal capacity of 1,271 MW.
Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo are natural gas-fired power plants of First Gas Power Corp. in Batangas province with capacities of 1,060 MW and 530 MW, respectively.
NGCP’s initial power outlook for July 16 showed that Luzon had 1,283 MW in gross reserves (available capacity of 8,706 MW versus system peak of 7,423 MW). The Visayas had a deficit of 15 MW (available capacity of 1,469 MW versus system peak of 1,484 MW) and Mindanao had gross reserves of 21 MW (available capacity of 1,373 versus system peak of 1,352 MW).
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