Published July 10, 2017, 10:00 PM By Kier Edison C. Belleza and Nestor L. Abrematea
Cebu City — A Visayas-wide power shortage looms after last week’s strong earthquake damaged geothermal plants in Leyte, an official of a power utility company in Cebu said Monday.
With the geothermal plants off the grid, there is not enough electricity to supply the region, according to Queenie Bronce, reputation enhancement manager of the Visayan Electric Company (VECO).
Until the power situation stabilizes, Bronce urged Cebuanos to conserve electricity.
“Now that we are having low power supply, I encourage everyone in the VECO franchise area to save electricity by switching off appliances that are not in use. In our own little way, we can take part in addressing the power supply shortage,” she said.
Late last week, VECO, which serves four cities and four towns in Metro Cebu, started implementing rotating brownouts on the request of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
On Thursday night, right after the magnitude 6.5 quake struck Leyte and was felt all over the Visasyas, VECO had to sequentially switch off four to five feeders in different locations.
On Friday, a wider power interruption gripped the VECO’s franchise area. On Saturday there was one brownout in the morning and another in the evening.
There were no outages on Sunday, but on Monday VECO resumed rationing in the cities of Mandaue and Cebu.
Bronce said the power interruptions could last from five minutes to hours, depending on NGCP.
It will be up to NGCP to determine when electric utilities like VECO can normalize its power distribution to residential and commercial customers.
NGCP’s earthquake advisory Sunday testing at its Ormoc Substation “has temporarily halted due to heavy rainfall in the area, but will resume as soon as weather conditions become favorable.”
“Once testing is successful, Samar, Leyte, Biliran, and Bohol will receive power from Cebu,” NGCP said.
In Tacloban City, businesses are beginning to feel the fallout from the power outage.
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Leyte Chapter President Wilson S. Uy said the blackout “is hurting the economy.” Uy,
Tacloban Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Jack Uy had the same sentiment, saying only those who can afford to buy portable generators are able to keep their business open.
Downtown Tacloban has been buzzing with the sound of generators providing temporary power to their establishments.
Some banks have shut down their ATMs because of the blackout.