TROPICAL storm "Basyang" lashed out Central Luzon, including Metro Manila, leaving the entire Luzon power to grope in darkness due to sudden brownout.

According to the National Grid Corp of the Philippines (NGCP), the country's operator of transmission highway, full restoration of power is not expected in the next three to four days.

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NGCP said the Luzon grid suffered total power failure around 12:42 a.m. as a result of the damage caused by the typhoon on its transmission lines.

NGCP reported that from 10 p.m. to 12:25 a.m., nine of their major transmission lines bogged down.

These included the Kalayaan-Gumaca 230kV (lines 1&2), Kalayaan-Malaya 230kV (lines 1&2), San Jose-Tayabas 500kV (lines 1& 2), Malaya-Dolores 230kV (lines 1&2), and Sucat-Araneta 230kV. Power plants, such as Malaya 1 &2 (131 and 130 MW), Makban Units 3&4 (59 and 49 MW), and Quezon Power (130MW), auto tripped because of the strong winds.

Sual's Unit 1, meanwhile, reduced its generation from 225 MW to zero prompting NGCP to automatically drop load from the plant.

With the damaged, NGCP admitted that power supply in Metro Manila will be fully restored within two to three days.

Guillermo Redoblado, NGCP senior technical adviser, said they target to restore more than 50 percent of the power in Luzon grid by the end of July 14.

As of 3:00 p.m. (July 14), around 41 percent of the 5,488 MW total power load in Luzon grid has been restored. Masinloc-1 with 300 MW and Malaya-2 with 350 MW load are expected to be synchronized to the grid by 6 p.m. and midnight, respectively.

Redoblado said by end of Thursday they expect 57 percent in the Luzon grid to be restored, adding that more power plants like Sual-2 and Malaya-1 are expected to go online after completion of equipment tests.

Meanwhile, Sucat-Araneta and Malaya-Dolores lines, which directly feed electricity to Meralco, have already been energized at 12:11 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, respectively.

Supplies in the South Luzon from Quezon to the Bicol Region were also restored at 2:29 p.m.

Almost 100 linemen of NGCP have been deployed to patrol and repair transmission facilities affected by Typhoon Basyang.

On the other hand, Redoblado asked the public to be patient. "The citizenry can do a lot today. They have to understand us that we are doing our best to restore power service."

"Typhoon Basyang had strong winds, thus some of lines were cut off. I also want to call the attention of advertisers as there were tarpaulins that got entangled with our lines. Right now, we hope we could speed up the inspection to be able to address the damages," he said.

Costs

The National Transmission Corp. (TransCo), said one hour of blackout costs economic losses of about P175 million or could reach to more than P16 billion for four days.

When asked on their preparations, Redoblado said "Perhaps, we can only pray. Though we're replacing the deteriorated components and this is really a trial for us and we learn from this. We really have to hurry up the replacement. We're trying to meet the deadline before the typhoons hit again."

Secretary Jose Rene Almendras assured the public that the Department of Energy (DOE) remained to be on top the situation, saying "We are doing all we can to restore supply of power to the grid."

Meralco service areas

Distribution giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco), said about 20 percent of electricity had been restored in their franchise area.

This include portions of Laguna (Canlubang, Calamba, Lisp); Ternate, Cavite ; Sta. Maria and Meycauayan Bulacan, and; portions of Metro Manila including Balintawak, Diliman, Kaybiga, Bagbaguin and Quezon City.

As of 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, 135 out of 683 (20 percent) distribution circuits, 68 out of 84 (81 percent) sub-transmission lines and 67 out of 112 (60 percent) substations have been energized.

This translates to around 956,000, or 20.2 percent, out of the 4.7 million Meralco customers who have their power restored.

Meralco, however, said that even if it finishes its restoration work ahead of time, transmission constraints on the part of the NGCP would have to be resolved before power can be fully restored in the entire Meralco franchise area.

Joe Zaldarriaga, Meralco's external affairs manager said restoration of electrcity to their franchise area would be dependent on the NGCP's restoration efforts.

"We will provide power to our customers depending on the supply coming from NGCP," Zaldarriaga said. "As supply comes and based on our system capability, we will be distributing it to our franchise area," he added.

He noted that Meralco crews have been working round the clock to restore power in affected areas.

"As of the moment, 38 broken distribution poles are still being replaced along with the restringing of 26 spans of downed primary lines. Tests are likewise being done on our Dasmariñas Substation Transformer Bank No. 1, which earlier experienced tripping," he disclosed.

"This results in limited power that we can distribute at the moment. We would, however, continue to coordinate with all concerned parties to be able to restore power at the soonest and most reasonable time possible," he added.

Railway services affected

The Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 from Baclaran in Pasay City to Monumento in Caloocan City is still down due to power shortage while LRT line 2 from Recto to Santolan has resumed operation.

The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) is operational from North Avenue to Shaw Boulevard station. Other stations from Boni Avenue to Taft Avenue remains closed to the commuting public.

A crane that fell at the Skyway Wednesday morning snarled the traffic at the south-bound lane of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

For its part, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reported that floods were gutter-deep in Tandang Sora and Sangandaan; knee-deep in Delpan-Recto in Manila and Bambang-Abad Santos Avenue; and gutter-deep in P. Guevarra, Lacson Avenue, Espana, and Pureza. (MSN/Katrina Alvarez/AH/Sunnex)