For summer of 2019: NPC eyeing Codon site for 7.2-MW power barge
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This early, the National Power Corporation has begun preparing for the expected power shortfall in Catanduanes in the summer of 2019, with NPC president and chief executive officer Pio Benavidez approving the deployment of a power barge by December.

According to unimpeachable sources, a team of technical personnel arrived last week to inspect potential mooring sites for the power barge. Among those reportedly considered were Codon in San Andres, Camburo in Pandan, Bagamanoc town and the former power barge site in Bato.

The team took into consideration three criteria: water deep enough to accommodate the barge, safety during inclement weather, and distance from a power substation.

Pres. Benavidez chose Codon port, as it is near the Codon substation of the NPC’s 69-KV transmission line in barangay Asgad.

The old site in Bato had been ruled out as two power barges had been washed away by storm surges in the past.

An official source told the Tribune that NPC will seek permission to use the Codon port from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) which built the facility several years ago. Consent will also be sought from the municipal government of San Andres as well as the barangay council.

The source also disclosed that the power barge has an installed capability of 14.4 megawatts to be provided by four diesel generating sets but only two, with a total dependable capacity of 7.2-MW, will be operational as the other two will be under maintenance.

Completion of the mooring site and appurtenant facilities, as well as the commissioning of the power barge, will most likely be by December 2018, he added. Funds for the operation and maintenance of the barge have already been included in the NPC’s proposed budget for 2019.

The good news comes just two weeks after Senator Sherwin Gatchalian promised to do his best to resolve the power crisis in Catanduanes. Speaking before more than 5,000 member-consumers of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) during its 41st Annual General Membership Assembly in Bato, the senator told the crowd that he had already asked the NPC president and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to help address the deficiency in the island grid.

FICELCO General Manager Engr. Raul Zafe confirmed that he has received raw information regarding the NPC’s power barge plan but added that his officer has yet to receive an official communication from NPC on the matter.

He recalled that after the AGMA, he was queried by the senator on the current power situation and told him that while there is a slim or minimal reserve in the grid, a breakdown by any one of the power plants would result in rotational brownouts.

The GM also suggested to Gatchalian that NPC could send modular gensets just like the ones brought by Monark which can be on line within a week.

On the power barge deployment, he said it would be preferable to locate the mooring site somewhere in the northern towns so as to improve voltage around the grid.

However, GM Zafe bared that the cooperative will continue the Competitive Selection Process (CSP) it started soon after he took over the post, as the NPC power barge could be pulled out as soon as the power situation on the island stabilizes.

The island grid has suffered intermittent brownouts, some lasting almost 18 hours due to the breakdown of its baseload plant, the 3.6-megawatt diesel generator operated by NPC at Marinawa power plant as well as the overhauling of five more NPC gensets and the repair of the Solong mini-hydroelectric power plant.

As of Sept. 10, the grid had a deficiency of 1.69MW, resulting in load shedding. The Sunweat Water & Electric Co. has yet to announce the date of commissioning of the Solong hydro as repair of its damaged penstock pipeline is ongoing. One of the Solong diesel gensets is also undergoing replacement of its radiator.

Two gensets at NPC Marinawa are being overhauled while a third one is being repaired, along with two more at Viga diesel power plant.


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