EDC ensures safe return of 54 stranded employees

BACOLOD. Energy Development Corporation employees brought back home to their communities. (Contributed photo)

LOPEZ-LED Energy Development Corporation (EDC) finally flew home 54 employees that were stranded in their various renewable energy sites around the country due to the lockdown brought about by the Covic-19 pandemic.

Neil John Escalera, an operations and maintenance resource support engineer sent to EDC's geothermal facility in Valencia, Negros Oriental, was among those who was finally extricated from his last assignment and sent home to be reunited with his family.

"I was worried and concerned since I was not with my family during this time of crisis," Neil said, adding that he was thankful that "the company did not let us feel alone in this battle. They constantly communicated with us their plans to return us home safely."

Neil was among 150 employees and contractors of EDC who found themselves locked down in various parts of the country amid travel restrictions, enduring over two months of separation from their families before they were finally flown home by the company on specially-chartered flights. Many of them though opted to stay on in their present site.

Ana Marie C. Agapinan, EDC's extrication project team lead, said that while the company "doubled-down on its commitment to keep uninterrupted power flowing into the grid, we knew we had a duty to keep our employees and contractors - our very own frontlines, safe and supported and bring them home to their families as soon as we were allowed to."

EDC, being the largest renewable energy producer in the Philippines, operates geothermal power plants in key regions and provinces such as Bicol, Negros, Leyte, and North Cotabato, a combined solar and wind power farm in Ilocos Norte, and a hydroelectric power plant in Nueva Ecija. Employees and contractors often travel to or are temporarily assigned to its different sites as part of their work programs.

Agapinan led a small team to carefully orchestrate the extrication and return of these stranded employees and contractors to their hometowns, which, for some, were on opposite sides of the country from where they were stranded and quarantined.

The plan to extricate had to jive with the guidelines not only set by the national Inter-Agency Task Force but also that of the relevant local government units which were constantly evolving depending on the quarantine status imposed in EDC site locations and receiving LGUs.

With the travel plan set in motion, 54 employees flew via a chartered flight operated by Air Swift that hopped between Manila, Ormoc City, Davao City, Dumaguete City and Legazpi City, picking up and dropping off passengers within a span of 12 hours. Land transportation was also made available to pick-up them up from the various airports and bring them to their homes.

"Throughout this pandemic we have been guided by our Lopez Values, in particular, the value of Employee Welfare and Wellness which has been at the top of our list since the pandemic started, and this extrication project and all the teamwork it inspired demonstrated that," said Miguel de Vera, EDC sponsor of the extrication project.

"To be able to fulfill our mission of providing clean and reliable energy to hospitals and essential industries, and, at the same time be able to support, care for, and keep its people safe through this tough time -- I don't think we in EDC could have asked for more.," De Vera added.

EDC's over 220MW geothermal facility in Negros has been supplying uninterrupted supply of clean, renewable power to the Visayas region for over 30 years. (PR)


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