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Saturday, September 21, 2019

6-hour power cuts plague island

SOME residents of Bantayan Island reported long hours of power outages starting last Aug. 6, which they say has affected households, resorts and poultry farms.

But electric company officials said that power supply normalized last Thursday, Aug. 11.

Bantayan Island Power Corp. (Bipcor) Vice President Apolinar Saso confirmed that two of their power generators bogged down one after the other, which caused a power shortage.  

The short supply forced power distributor Bantayan Electric Cooperative (Banelco) to resort to load-shedding, an official said.

“In the previous days, moabot og tag unom ka oras brownout, buwag-buwag (we had to endure up to 6 hours without power),” said Bantayan Mayor Art Despi.

Despi said that in the poultry farms that depend on tunnel ventilation cooling systems, the daily brownouts strained their standby generators and forced them to spend more on fuel.

Dako gyud ang epekto ani sa poultry industry kay bisan ang wala’y tunnel ventilation naa sila’y blower (This had a huge effect on the poultry industry because even in the farms that didn’t use a tunnel ventilation system, they also had to use blowers),” said Despi, whose family owns one of the biggest poultry farms in the island.

Troubles

He couldn’t say how much in losses the town’s farms had incurred.

Bipcor produces power while Banelco distributes it to some 22,000 households, poultry farms and beach houses in the towns of Bantayan, Sta. Fe and Madridejos.

Banelco General Manager Lee Rivera said the island needs 5,200 kilowatts of electricity during peak hours and almost 4,000 kilowatts during non-peak hours, all of these produced by the company’s six generator sets.

At the moment, Saso said, they need an additional 3,000 kilowatts of reserve power, in order for the supply to remain normal even after a generator bogs down.

Rivera said that a generator set malfunctioned last Aug. 6 because of a broken thrust washer. This meant that power supply was short by some 200 kilowatts.

They had a local one fabricated in Cebu City, while they ordered a new one from Singapore.

Growth

On Aug. 7, when the power supply was still normal, another power generator had a cracked cylinder head and bogged down, too. As of Aug. 8, the island’s power supply was already short by 600 to 1,000 kilowatts, said Rivera.

Only Bantayan town had a steady power supply, while the other two towns endured scheduled brownouts.

“We prioritized Bantayan town because of its hospital,” Rivera said.

On Aug. 9, the fabricated thrust washer from the city arrived and was installed, said Rivera. Once the one they ordered from Singapore arrives, it will be kept as a spare.

On Aug. 11, power supply was again normal.

But the island’s power demand is growing faster than the national average. Saso said the normal forecast for power growth in mainland Cebu and nationwide is four percent. But in Bantayan Island, it’s 22.2 percent.

“In 1995, there were three resorts operating in Bantayan. Now, there are 30,” said Saso.

He proposed to the three mayors that whenever a new business establishment applies for a permit, its owners should inform local officials approximately how much power supply they will need.

Demand

The installation of tunnel-type air-conditioning units in poultry farms has also driven up the demand for power, Saso explained.

Simbako unsay mahitabo sa among generator nga sige’g andar, patay among negosyo (If anything should happen to our generator, which is running non-stop, it’ll kill our business),” said Mayor Despi.

Last March, during a public hearing sparked by a series of brownouts on the island, Saso told Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, residents and business owners in the three towns about the plan to buy a new 3,000-kilowatt generator.

Saso told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday that they already have P21 million cash on standby for a down payment, once they ask a company in China to fabricate the unit. He said it will take five months to fabricate, ship and install the new generator.

But the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has required them to hold a public consultation before acquiring the new generator. Saso said he expects that the new generator will be in place by the first quarter of 2017.
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