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Typhoon causes widespread brownouts in Luzon

Typhoon Ulysses had shown its wrath not just on its blustering wind and the volume of rain it dumped on some areas, but also on torturing millions of Filipinos with brownouts or electricity service interruptions while the weather disturbance pummeled Metro Manila and various parts of Luzon.

In the franchise area of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) alone, 3.8 million households lost their power supply and this rendered many to grapple in the dark at the peak of typhoon’s strike on Wednesday evening and most hours on Thursday (November 12).

If the millions of Meralco customers affected would be multiplied by 4 to 5 family members per household, that could sum up to around 15-19 million people who suffered power interruptions in the Meralco service areas of Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Batangas, Quezon, Laguna, Bulacan and Pampanga. “As of 5:00am (on Thursday), the count of Meralco customers who experienced interruptions due to the effects of Ulysses was 3,803, 810 or 56-percent of our customer base,” Meralco has reported.

By close to noon-time on the same day, Meralco Spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga indicated that the utility firm already brought back electricity service to about 2.79 million households, but there had been more than 1.0 million customers still needing restoration on their power supply.

For the affected electric cooperatives, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) has yet to turn in data on the number of affected customers in many provinces in northern and southern Luzon
Early in the day, Meralco advised that it dispatched crews in affected areas so electricity service can be brought back gradually, primarily in areas that are already safe to do restoration works.

The utility firm, nevertheless, cautioned consumers that it will reinstate power supply to homes and businesses, but with “safety” of its workers as well as the consumers being its prime consideration, especially in areas still submerged in flood.

“We are exerting all efforts to restore power soonest despite the constraints we are currently facing,” Zaldarriaga said, with him stressing that “Meralco will continue to conduct restoration efforts round-the-clock in order to address each and every customer who still have no power supply.”

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi announced that “there are plants that were on shutdown for safety reasons,” and intervention had already been instituted at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) as the typhoon rendered abnormal state in the country’s power supply-demand conditions.

“Market intervention has been in effect since last night (Wednesday evening) as dispatch schedules are unimplementable,” the energy chief stressed.

He similarly explained that “the outage of power plants are preventive measures to avoid total system collapse as frequency is very high.” The energy department is still collating information on all the power generating facilities that had resorted to ‘emergency shutdowns’ because of the extreme weather condition.

The total power capacity affected by the typhoon’s plague had been at 4,231.8 megawatts, involving 13 power generating facilities, according to the Department of Energy. The restored facilities, as of press time, had been the San Lorenzo gas-fired and Makiling-Banahaw geothermal plants.

Cusi narrated that “as of 7:00am, linemen were having difficulty in the restoration works due to wind and rain,” with him noting that “safety” was also being prioritized in deploying people in the field for electricity service restoration activities.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) also rounded up vast scale of its transmission facilities in Northern and Southern Luzon that had either been downed or damaged by the typhoon.
In Northern Luzon, the transmission lines that were rendered unavailable include the: La Trinidad-Mankaya-Sagada line; Labrador-Malasiqui line; Hermosa-Guagua line; Botolan-Candelaria line; Botolan-Castillejos line; Concepcion-Camiling line; Cabanatuan-Bulualto line; Cabanatuan-Fatima line; Cabanatuan-San Isidro line; Cabanatuan-San Luis line; Mexico-Clark line; and Mexico-Calumpit line.

For the Southern Luzon part, the transmission facilities that went out of service had been: Batangas-Mabini line; Batangas-Rosario line; Gumaca-Lopez line; Pitogo-Mulanay line; Famy-Comon line; Lumban-Famy line; Caliraya-Lumban line; Naga-Libmanan line; Naga-Tinambac line; Naga-Lagonoy line; Daraga-Ligao line; Daraga-Legaspi line; Daraga-Santo Domingo line; and Daraga-Sorsogon line.

NGCP further noted that its 500-kilovolt San Jose-Tayabas line was also unavailable; along with at least 10 lines of 230kV capacity, including the Nagsaag-Pantabangan line; Nagsaag-Casecnan line; Malolos-Hermosa line; Marilao-Hermosa line; Cabanatuan-Pantabangan line; San Jose-San Rafael line; Malaya-Lumban line; Gumaca-Labo line; Daraga-Naga line; and Naga-Labo line.

The transmission firm said “inspection and restoration of lines in the affected areas will be in full swing as soon as the weather allows.”

By 1:00pm on Thursday, the system operator reported that it already restored several lines: including

the Batangas-Mabini line; Lumban-Famy line; Pitogo-Mulanay; Naga-Libmanan line; Naga-Tinambac line; Daraga-Ligao line; Daraga-Legaspi line; and Daraga-Sorsogon line. (MMV)

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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