A MAJOR power outage can happen anytime in Camiguin province once the island's submarine cable is damaged.
"This is a serious cause for concern for all Camiguingnons," said Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo, raising concern over the deteriorating condition of the island's submarine cable.
Romualdo said the island's undersea cable that linked power from the mainland
Mindanao has only a lifetime of 25 years. The submarine cable was laid in 1987.
With this, the Camiguin Electric Cooperative (Camelco) started to conduct a series of public hearings in the five municipalities of the province to appraise the people about the power situation and find solution to the problem.
Romualdo warned that unless remedies are taken now, Camiguin will be like Siargao Island, which has just experienced prolonged blackout after its underwater power line was reportedly broken due to wear and tear.
"We are not sure when it (blackout) will happen to us, it may be tonight, tomorrow or next year," Romualdo said during the public hearing conducted at Mahinog gym recently.
"But we are working as fast as we can to prepare for it," he added, aware that the situation could have serious repercussion in the island's economy.
Recently, the Provincial Government purchased power generating sets to ensure uninterrupted power supply at the Camiguin General Hospital.
"I want to ensure that if this happens, business would go on as usual in our hospital because life is important to me," Romualdo said.
Camelco manager Adrian Ebcas presented several options to solve the capacity requirement problem and probable blackouts.
One option, he said, is the immediate replacement of aging submarine cable with the installation of 13.2kv submarine cable including acquisition of 69 kv line, among others, to reduce systems loss.
He said this is also to save consumers from constant payment of Residual Connection Charges to National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
This, Ebcas said, will cost the electric cooperative over P400 million in loans to finance the project and for the consumers to pay P2 per kilowatt hour more on its bill from the present P10 per kwh to recover the investment cost.
Another option, he said, is that instead of buying power from the mainland, Camelco will just invite independent power producer (IPP) to build an eight megawatt diesel plant in Camiguin.
"For this option, electric consumers will bear the burden of paying additional P6 per kwh on top of the current rate," he said.
On the other hand, Ebcas disclosed that Camiguin, according to the Department of Energy (DOE), has resource potential for wind energy sources that can be developed. These sources are located in Lowan town in Mahinog.
If developed, he said, this could provide substantial power supply for Camiguin with a generation capacity from 15 mw to 25 mw and could even export its excess power to the mainland.
At present, Camiguin has a power demand of 2.8 mw and is expected to reach seven mw in 15 years.
Among the options, Ebcas said the best way to cope with the situation is to install a new submarine cable to replace the old ones since this is also necessary once Camiguin will finally have its own source of wind energy and export power to the mainland.
"This will yield additional revenues not only to Camelco but also to the local government units concerned," Ebcas said.