Power resilience

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Friday, July 18, 2014


ANYONE who had a Boy and Girl Scout experience know this global motto. Be prepared.

‘Tis the season of typhoons. And not just any other storm. The country has been hit by a series of megastorms. The latest is Glenda while parts of the Visayas are still reeling from the ravages of Yolanda.

With Typhoon Glenda, the country was more prepared. Casualties were largely reduced as residents living in vulnerable areas evacuated to higher and safer areas.

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But consistent victim of these storms are non-human. Our power facilities. And lately our telecommunications systems.

In Glenda, 13.5 million people in Luzon and parts of Visayas lost electricity as the typhoon disrupted transmission lines.

The National Electrification Administration said about nine million people in southern parts of Luzon and portions of the Visayas lost power due to damaged power assets.

Coming in the heels of power outages are disrupted telecom services as well. Mr. Ramón Isberto, Public Affairs Group Head of Smart, said that “an estimated 15-20 percent of our facilities in Metro Manila and in South Luzon respectively, were affected by the storm.”

For its part, Globe Telecom said that in its initial network assessment report, Globe mobile services were disrupted in Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Marinduque, Masbate, Quezon and Sorsogon.

Luzon and Eastern Visayas today suffered the brunt of Glenda, Western Visayas tomorrow with another megastorm?

Far-fetched? Of course not. I remember Typhoons Uring and Ruping, not to mention Nitang, the first megastorm to hit the province. Central Negros Cooperative (Ceneco) was out for over a month, if memory serves.
In 2014 and the following years, can the power facilities of Ceneco withstand the onslaught of megastorms? And can the Bacolod City Water District continue to provide us with water during these power outages?

Judging by Yolanda, the answer is a flat no. Bacolod experienced Signal No. 3 last November, and the blackouts lasted nearly a week, if memory served.

And Baciwa’s water services. Tough luck. No power, no water. It’s that simple.

Contrast that in Metro Manila. Despite Glenda, private companies Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services. Inc, provided its consumers with continuous water.

The fate of the power services of these two private companies are not coterminous with the fate of Meralco. They can supply their consumers on their own.

During Yolanda, I never had a problem contacting friends and relatives via smartphone and even my simple Nokia cellphone. I became incommunicado when battery power conked out.

Generally I can do without electric power and the cellphones and the internet for a week. But not water.

However, the resiliency — or the lack of it — of Ceneco to megastorms constitutes a double whammy for consumers like me. No power, no water. That’s a given in Bacolod but not elsewhere in highly-urbanized cities.

So be prepared. Learn to embrace the Juliana Carbon balde solution to the problem: store enough water to supply their needs during the emergency.

*****

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 18, 2014.

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