NPC’s 3.6-MW genset back on line; SUWECO agrees to run 2 new units
posted 6-Aug-2018  ·  
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Normalcy returned to the island’s power grid late last week after the National Power Corporation’s 3.6-megawatt diesel genset went on line, covering the 2.6-MW deficit that led to the weeks-long load shedding.

After three weeks of rehabilitation, NPC personnel tested the genset on July 24, with the unit emitting thick, black smoke at first. In another test run the following day, the genset was made to supply 500-KW to the grid but was shut down again on Thursday, July 26, to check up two minor oil leaks.

At about 3 P.M. of Friday, July 27, the genset went into commercial operation, NPC Marinawa power plant superintendent Engr. Edwin Tatel, supplying 2.6-MW of electricity to the grid. He informed the Tribune that fuel for the genset’s operation has been assured by daily deliveries from Pasacao, Camarines Sur, with the diesel stored at the fuel tank farm in Virac.

It was learned that the board of directors of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) is now working to pass an amendment to its power supply contract with NPC, as the latter now supplies 7 megawatts of power compared to the previous 3.4-MW.

FICELCO General Manager Engr. Raul Zafe also confirmed that the Sunwest Water & Electric Co. (SUWECO) has agreed to install two new gensets at the idle Marinawa power plant of the cooperative pursuant to the provisions of the ESA’s `1st Amendment. The matter is up for approval by the board.

The new gensets would be treated as substitute for two gensets at Solong which will not be run so as not to overload the tie line from Balongbong mini-hydro power plant to the Marinawa switch yard. Work has already started on the wiring that would connect the gensets to the grid.

SUWECO technicians reportedly told the cooperative that the new gensets would be operational within two weeks but FICELCO officials are confident that the units would be online within a week.

Meanwhile, in a meeting with members of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) chapter here, GM Zafe outlined to the mayors his proposed solutions to what the latter described as “disappointing” power supply situation.

Aside from the NPC base-load genset and the two new gensets from SUWECO, the general manager disclosed that a Third-Party Bids & Awards Committee (TPBAC) has already been created and is now studying the proposed Terms of Reference (TOR) and conduct a Distribution Impact Study (DIS) for the procurement of a new power supply.

To make the process transparent, he said, the body will include observers from the provincial government and others who are knowledgeable about the bidding process. The new supplier will be able to offer competition to the other, existing suppliers, he added.

The bidding for the 6 to 9 megawatts of new power will be started sometime this month and be completed within six months.

Zafe also informed San Andres Mayor Peter Cua and his group – Bato Mayor Eulogio Rodriguez, Caramoran Mayor Agnes Popa, Baras Mayor Chito Chi and Gigmoto Mayor Armando Guerrero - that the Development Bank of the Philippines has offered a short-term loan to FICELCO for the acquisition of new gensets in case the TPBAC fails to bid out a new supply contract.

On the other hand, the 2-MW solar power project to be funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has yet to be approved by the National Economic Development Administration (NEDA).

The upgrading of the overloaded tie line between Marinawa and Balongbong that would cost P2.7 million will be completed in December 2018, with two or three teams from Bicol cooperatives to assist FICELCO linemen.

He bared that the P700-million transmission line project of NPC will be completed in 2020, upon which the line between Virac and Asgad will now be used exclusively by NPC.

Informed that the FICELCO franchise would expire in 2029, LMP members advised the cooperative to improve its services so it would be granted another franchise and avoid being privatized.

Zafe said a partylist group has filed a bill seeking to return to the National Electrification Administration (NEA) the power to issue franchises to electric cooperatives which the EPIRA Law gave to Congress.

He also informed that the cooperative is planning to have barangays perform road right-of-way and line clearing activities for compensation. He also asked LGUs to monitor the construction of structures underneath or near power lines to avoid accidents.

Among other projects being implemented by the co-op to improve system reliability include load phase balancing, installation of line protection equipment to isolate problem areas, line clearing and thermal scanning of hot spots.

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