Majority of island-grids still suffer blackouts

By Myrna M. Velasco – April 11, 2017, 10:00 PM

By Manila Bulletin

Majority of off-grid areas in the country, including the islands that have tourism draw potential, are still suffering from massive blackouts or power interruptions on a daily basis.

That had been anchored on data presented by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, stressing that 58.21-percent of these off-grid areas are just getting four (4) to seven (7) hours of electricity service.

That then entails enormous economic losses aside from the tormenting inconvenience that on-and-off power supply could bring to residents in these areas.

Off-grid sites are those domains having autonomous electricity systems – or not linked to main power grids primarily due to impossibility of physical interconnectivity.

The energy chief added that at this stage, 27.99-percent of off-grid areas have to make do with just electricity service of 8-15 hours; while the ones with round-the-clock power supply hovered at 10.45-percent. Off-grid sites with 16 to 23 hours of electricity supply account for comparatively marginal at 3.36-percent of the entire pie.

Cusi said “electrification gaps in off-grid areas have been due to distance and lack of capacity.”

But this is a power industry fate and narrative that he has been intending to transform – starting at his home province in Oriental Mindoro.

Cusi laid down the three-phased project plan to interconnect the islands to a proposed 50-megawatt minemouth power plant in Antique to be undertaken by Semirara Mining and Power Corporation.

Phase one will be a 20-kilometer interconnection from Antique to Mindoro, then to be followed by another 20km link-up from Mindoro to Batangas as the project’s second phase.

The Antique-Mindoro interconnection alone will require investments of up to R1.4 billion, but Cusi said this is cheaper than doing the link-up via Batangas which commands a higher capital outlay of R13-R14 billion.

The last stretch of that planned island interconnectivity is the proposed 69-kilometer transmission link-up from Antique to Panay.

If power supply in these island-grid domains can be improved to the maximum, economic prospects could also be spurred and could lift up the quality of life of consumers in these areas.