Sunday , May 27, 2018

Will quake jolt gov’t to get more power?

THERE is a need for more investments in the power sector following the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that rocked Leyte Province last week, an official of the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 said yesterday.

The jolt, followed by some 500 aftershocks, has caused electricity supply problems for some areas in Regions 7 and 8. It damaged the geothermal power plants in Leyte and affected transmission lines.

RDC co-chair Kenneth Cobonpue told reporters that while there are 300 megawatts of power expected to enter the Visayas grid next year, the government and power stakeholders should begin looking for more investments in power to ensure reliability even after natural calamities.

“We definitely need to invest more in power,” said Cobonpue. He said that the RDC will stage another forum on power to tackle current issues of the industry in the face of calamities.

Meanwhile, the business community in Cebu believes the power shortage problem is temporary and that its impact on business operations will be minimal, thanks to the quick information released to the public and other measures.

According to Melanie Ng, chair of the economic sector of RDC 7 and president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), power players have done a great job in responding to the situation. She noted CCCI has not received any negative feedback from businesses about the rotational brownouts.

However, the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) need strong support in tough times like this, said Glenn Anthony Soco, infrastructure committee chair of the RDC 7 and president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“I know solutions (in addressing power problems) are being fast-tracked but it is equally important to support the MSMEs. They are the ones who suffer whenever there are problems like this, unlike big companies that already factored in problems like this in their operational costs,” said Soco.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said that the Department of Energy is addressing the effects of the quake in three ways: immediately restoring power, finding alternative sources of energy, and easing the people’s burden.

The DOE has a 10-day timeline to restore power supply.

As to transmission sector resiliency, the DOE, in a statement, said it wants to fast-track the Cebu-Bohol submarine cable targeted by National Grid Corp. of the Philippines by 2020 to establish an alternative transmission route for the provinces in Region 8, in case of similar calamities.