Power cut: Brownout or blackout?-A A +A
Just Passing By
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
BENECO has 3,078.79 kms. of electric power lines that connect to 145,501 houses. These houses range from lifeline rate consumers to big loaders whose power supply must always be available 24/7.
Just imagine then the deluge of gripes the cooperative must confront when there is now a power failure, particularly if it is unscheduled. And if the interruption happens on a Sunday morning of a Pacquiao fight, or on primetime TV when Daniel is about to kiss Katerina, all hell and curse are but natural.
Typhoon Gener was no exception. Power lines got tripped, faults occurred and several areas suffered a power cut. Expectedly, the wave of inquiries arrived. Our consumer assistance line, 442-2295, received 216 consumer calls from 5 pm on Monday until 12 noon yesterday. For the same period, our text line, 09088657502, got flooded with more than 500 messages. The callers and the texters, both the irate and the cool, asked when their electricity will be restored. Others urged action on tree branches leaning into wires, sparking transformers, busted lights and sagging service drops that are about to kiss ground.
Our consumer assistance and call center is manned by five gentlemen who rotate by shift – Humprey Madayag, Louis Caranto, Pablo Ramos III, Ronald Allan Espiritu and Dax Solomon Umaming. They are also humans who beg your indulgence if they are unable to respond to your messages as soon as possible. It’s because they have to refer your query to the proper officer who in turn must consider the technical ammunition to prepare and decide who and what to dispatch. The radio hand, who already got busy entertaining other concerns, will then be advised on the information he has to relay.
We understand the clamor of our consumers that their power will be immediately restored. But please understand that our crew will not simply don their skull guards, put on their protective gears and proceed to area where the power snapped and presto reconnect. That would be dangerous. There are technical procedures to be followed. Remember that in this business, we also put premium on safety.
BENECO has five substations. One is found in Lamut, Beckel. Two are in Baguio City. That’s in Irisan and North Sanitary Camp. Camp 30 in Atok hosts one and another rests in Bulalacao, Mankayan.
Each substation serves assigned areas of responsibility which are clustered into feeders. Thus, Lamut serves feeders 1,2,11,12 and 13. Irisan serves feeders 3 and 4; North Sanitary Camp, feeders 6,5,7,8,9 and 10. Atok has circuits 1,2 and 3 and Bulalacao, circuits 4 and 5. BENECO chose to call the feeders in Benguet as circuits in order to be able to easily distinguish them from Baguio City.
The feeders have backbone lines and laterals. These lines are high voltage wires, from 7.62 kV to 23 Kv. Distribution transformers are used to step down the voltage from 23 kV to 220 volts. The lowered voltage will pass through secondary lines. The secondary lines will connect to service drops, or those wires that will now finally provide current to our houses. So restoring a power cut also depends on the source of interruption.
By the way, a brownout is a drop in voltage in an electrical power supply. The term comes from the dimming experienced by lighting when the voltage sags. Brownouts are those that affect a smaller area.
Meanwhile, a blackout refers to the total loss of power over a wide area. It is a most severe form of power outage, thus, a more serious type of power outage.
I hope I said these things right. Thanks to the power engineers, Leonard Atam, Leo Walsien, Joaquin Calawen and the unsinkable Zacarias Torres.
They tutored, I mean tortured, me.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 01, 2012.