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Visayan Electric energizes hospitals in Cebu City first

A substation of Visayan Electric Co. (Aboitiz Power Corp. File)

Aboitiz-managed Visayan Electric Co. on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, sourced power supply from another Aboitiz-led company that operates an expensive bunker C-fired power plant to supply electricity to major hospitals and power the water pumps of Metro Cebu Water District.

Cebu Private Power Corp. (CPPC), which is 60% owned by Aboitiz Power Corp., fired up its 62-megawatt bunker C-fired power plant on Saturday in response to the clamor for electricity in typhoon-stricken Cebu.

The plant, however, could supply only 18 MW because it also sustained damage from Typhoon Odette (Rai), Visayan Electric president and chief operating officer Raul Lucero told reporters.

Power supply from the CPPC will be distributed through Visayan Electric's transmission backbone to power Cebu City Medical Center, Calamba substation for Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center and Chong Hua Hospital, Kamputhaw substation for Perpetual Succor Hospital, and Capitol, which has opened itself to evacuees, Lucero said.

All lateral lines have been removed from the main line because of the limited power supply, Lucero added. Visayan Electric consumers use up an average of 1.2 million kilowatt-hours, or 1,200 megawatt-hours. The utility serves the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay and Naga as well as the towns of Liloan, Consolacion, Minglanilla and San Fernando.

The CPPC facility used to serve as peaking plant for Visayan Electric, supplying power only when market rates were high. Visayan Electric, however, stopped sourcing power from CPPC in the third quarter of 2021 amid allegations by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) that the supply deal was "anti-competitive."

Cebu, however, has been without power supply for 48 hours now in the wake of Typhoon Odette, whose violent 175 km/h winds with gustiness of 240 km/h toppled utility posts and plunged the entire province in darkness Thursday evening, Dec. 16.

Grid operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has yet to re-energize the Visayas grid's transmission lines, through which the Visayan Electric gets its power supply.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, NGCP said line inspection was still ongoing in the Visayas. Initially, NGCP said four towers and two transmission poles were toppled by the typhoon in the Visayas. There was also one leaning pole.

"Restoration is ongoing for transmission facilities serving the entire Samar, Leyte and Negros islands as well as the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Iloilo, Antique, all the Surigao and Agusan provinces, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Lanao del Norte and Misamis Occidental," NGCP said in an update.

As soon as NGCP energizes the grid, Lucero assured that Visayan Electric's substations would be prepared to receive power supply.

Earlier Saturday, NGCP and Visayan Electric representatives assured Cebu Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia that power supply would be restored in Cebu in one week.

The NGCP also issued a statement debunking reports that it had set a restoration timeline of one week.

Typhoon Odette left a trail of devastation in Surigao provinces and Bohol before slamming into Cebu on Thursday evening. It made landfall in the vicinity of Carcar City before moving westward through Iloilo and Palawan. (MTVI/Ventures Cebu)

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