No guarantee of brownout-free polls-A A +A
Saturday, October 9, 2010
CEBU CITY -- A Commission on Elections (Comelec) official said Friday that there is no assurance the barangay and youth elections on October 25 will be free from brownouts.
Just in case, Comelec-Central Visayas Assistant Director Veronico Petalcorin urged the public and candidates to bring emergency lamps or flashlights to their polling places, as outages during the elections may occur.
In previous barangay elections, the voting ended at 3 p.m. but the counting stretched until evening.
Officials from Comelec, Department of Energy, Philippine National Police and different power suppliers and distributors met Friday to discuss preparations for the elections.
Scarce power also means parched communities.
An official of Metro Cebu's main water distributor said the rotational brownouts earlier this week have affected their overall water production.
Recent brownouts in Metro Cebu were triggered when the Cebu Energy Development Corp. shut down two of its plants for maintenance, after a transmission line of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines bogged down.
Due to the short supply, the Visayan Electric Company Inc. (Veco) has resorted to rotating brownouts of up to two hours per feeder. In an advisory, it said it expected rotational brownouts Saturday in parts of Cebu City, Mandaue, Talisay, Naga, San Fernando, Consolacion and Liloan.
Veco communications manager Ethel Taneo-Natera assured the power distributor is "doing everything it can" to prevent brownouts during the elections.
"There's no 100-percent guarantee brownouts will not occur during the elections. No electric company can guarantee that. But we're doing everything we can. We have our own contingency measures," she said.
Besides, Petalcorin said, the responsibility of ensuring efficient elections does not only rest on the power utilities, but on candidates and the general public.
"Every barangay should make an effort. Teachers, too, can bring emergency lamps. And, of course, the candidates themselves because it is in their interest to protect their votes," he said.
"We cannot predict the future. The only assurance we can give is that we are preparing and doing our best for the elections," Petalcorin said.
Two police officers, he said, will be assigned to every polling place to protect the area in case of brownouts.
Acting Cebu Provincial Police Office Chief Erson Digal said he will direct all his police teams to bring flashlights on Election Day.
Dhacki Quintaña of the Cebu Electric Cooperative said they are fixing their electricity lines, but outages may still occur because of factors beyond their control, such as heavy rains and falling branches.
As for the water situation, the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) said the brownouts have also hampered water supply, especially in elevated areas where booster pumps are used.
"Na-perwisyo gyud ang among (We've had problems with) overall production during brownouts," said Ernie Delco, MCWD assistant general manager for operations.
Delco explained that while a rotational brownout lasts for only up to two hours, it takes about four hours for booster pumps to generate enough pressure to send water supply to pipes in upland areas.
That's why areas like Capitol Site and Oprra in Cebu City are vulnerable to sudden water supply interruptions.
The Jaclupan Diversion Weir in Talisay City, which provides 30,000 to 35,000 cubic meters (cbm) of water, also suffers whenever a brownout hits its area.
Considered as MCWD's biggest water production facility, the Jaclupan Diversion Weir provides more than 15 percent of the water district's total production capacity.
As a precaution, Delco said MCWD is coordinating with Veco in order to know early if and when a power outage will occur.
This will allow MCWD to activate early their generator sets for booster pumps.
About 30 percent of their facilities have generator sets, including Jaclupan and some well fields in Talamban (Cebu City), Casili (Mandaue City), Liloan and Lagtang (Talisay).
One well field provided with a generator set is in Lagtang, which was inaugurated Friday. The well field in Lagtang can provide 2,500 cbm per day.
Delco said the MCWD plans to provide more generator sets to 50 percent of their facilities.
In the Jaclupan facility, MCWD has provided six generator sets.
One problem they encounter once they activate their generator sets early, before a power outage strikes, is the extra spending for diesel.
According to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines website, the Visayas lacked at least 247 megawatts on Friday. (RSB/JKV/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 10, 2010.