The Department of Energy (DoE) immediately acted on the possible effects of the eruption of Taal Volcano not only to power supply lines in the affected areas but also on prices of petroleum products.
DoE Undersecretary Wimpy Fuentebella, also spokesman of the agency, said DoE Secretary Alfonso Cusi ordered pro-active steps to mitigate the effects.
“There are several trippings reported but no exact details yet,” Fuentebella said.
In this light, the DoE ordered an immediate check on power plants, transmission and distribution wires and facilities.
Based on reports from electricity network operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the Tayabas-Dasmarinas 500 kilovolts (kV) line tripped at 4:59 p.m., the Tayabas-San Jose line was affected at 5:06 p.m. and the Dasmarinas-Ilijan line fluctuated 5:09 p.m.
At the same time, the DoE will be closely monitoring the supply and prices of oil products in the area.
The entire energy family, through the Task Force on Energy Resiliency (TFER), has been on full alert in view of the eruption.
The DoE added coordination with concerned agencies and entities has been initiated by while an energy situation update will be immediately released as soon all pertinent information becomes available.
In the meantime, the DoE would like to remind the public, especially those living in nearby areas, to stay alert and be aware of potential hazards and safety concerns.
Batangas supply affected
Batangas II Electric Cooperative Inc. reported as of 4:11 p.m. its 69-kV line supplying the towns of Talisay and Laurel tripped off.
“Majority of the barangays of these towns are now without power,” it noted.
It added it cannot undertake line patrolling because of the ashfalls in the area but it said it will do the necessary line inspections once it is safe for its personnel to do so.
Batangas I Electric Cooperative Inc. said its line is operating normally.
The DoE also reported almost full restoration of electricity on areas hit by typhoon “Ursula” at the height of the Christmas season as a result of bayanihan spirit of agencies and officials in the affected regions.
Local officials noted that electric cooperatives (EC) are rushing with repair of affected electricity networks in compliance with DoE Secretary Alfonso Cusi’s directive for the immediate restoration of power in typhoon-ravaged provinces.
Some delays are being experienced due to the lack of personnel but EC are already assisting to ensure immediate restoration through cooperation among concerned offices and agencies.
The DoE cited agencies concerned with the rehabilitation of the electricity network under the TFER which largely contributed to improve the situation in affected regions.
“We are grateful to have all hands-on deck at such a difficult time. All efforts have been undertaken to ensure that our fellow countrymen will have electricity access,” the energy chief indicated.
Focus on restoration
Last 26 December, Cusi rallied the TFER to continue working together for the immediate full restoration of energy services after typhoon “Ursula” barreled through the Visayas and some parts of Luzon on Christmas Day.
“For the energy family’s part, we have our courageous and hardworking line men and other personnel on the ground who are working round-the-clock to safely and urgently restore access to power,” Cusi emphasized.
Top officials of EC in Eastern Visayas have asked power consumers urged for patience even as they stepo up restoration and rehabilitation work.
“As much as possible, we want to restore power immediately. But as a standard operating procedure in power restoration especially if the house or a building is damaged, that needs to be checked first for safety, which member-consumer should understand,” said Joey Talon, president of Federation of Rural Electric Cooperatives in Region 8 (Frecor-8).
EC urges patience
Talon, the general manager of Samar II Electric Cooperative, appealed to consumers to value their efforts and understand their situation.
“Because that is for our safety, to ensure that no one is electrocuted or this will not result in a fire incident,” he said.
Their concern is not only for the safety of power consumers, but also the safety of linemen who are working day and night to restore electricity, added Allan Laniba, president of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives, also the manager of Don Orestes Romualdez Electric Cooperative based in Tolosa, Leyte.
Laniba recalled that during the six-month power restoration after the devastation of Super typhoon “Yolanda” in November 2013, six linemen perished during the restoration process.
“These are stories that sometimes never made it in the news. We don’t want to grandstand, what we want is for people to know how our linemen risk their lives just to get the power back to your respective houses and properties,” Laniba said.
Put hands together
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) also appealed for support for thousands of families affected and displaced by the typhoon.
In a statement, PRC Chairman and Senator Richard Gordon urged the public including big corporations to help the most vulnerable residents in the recovery phase through their donations.
“Assistance is badly needed in the form of temporary shelters as houses were destroyed or partially damaged due to strong winds. Food, medicine, clean water, tents, emergency shelter materials and essential household items (sleeping mats and blankets and shelter grade tarpaulins) are also a necessity for other communities,” Gordon said.
Water is also an essential need and PRC continues to provide safe drinking water and ensure adequacy of supply especially for residents living in remote barangays.
“Most of the affected residents spent their holidays in evacuation centers. We distributed media noche packages on New Year’s Eve in Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Aklan and Western Samar to ensure that everybody had a decent celebration despite the calamity they experienced,” Gordon added.
Since 24 December, Red Cross provided ready to eat meals/hotmeals to 4,734 individuals in Capiz, Cebu, Iloilo, Masbate, Passi, Romblon, Batangas and Leyte, distributed standard food items to 2,544families and media noche packages to 1,442 families.
More than 304 PRC personnel are on the ground for the operation working round-the-clock to aid the affected families.