500,000 Meralco customers still without electricity

Robie de Guzman   •   November 13, 2020   •   452

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) on Friday said that around 500,000 of its customers still have no power in the wake of the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

In a Facebook post, Meralco said most of those affected by power outages are households in Bulacan, Cavite, Marikina, and Quezon City areas.

“As of 6AM, bumaba na to 500K households, or 7.4% ang walang kuryente,” the power distributor said in a statement.

“Walang pong tigil ang restoration efforts ng Meralco para maibalik ang kuryente sa inyong mga tahanan,” it added.

The number is an improvement from the nearly 4 million households that initially lost power after Ulysses’ fierce winds and torrential rains toppled electrical posts and damaged facilities in Meralco’s franchise area.

It gradually decreased to 1.94 million as of 12 noon of Nov. 12 and then to more than 700,000 as of Thursday night.

Meralco reiterated its earlier assurance that its teams on the field are exerting all efforts to restore power soonest despite the current constraints.

The utility firm, however, said that power restoration efforts in areas that are heavily flooded would have to wait so as not to endanger the lives of their linemen.

Tropical Cyclone Wind Signals have all been lifted in the country as Typhoon Ulysses moves to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

DOE, ERC urged to probe unplanned outages in some Luzon power plants

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday called on the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to look into the reported unplanned outages of some power plants in Luzon that allegedly triggered a spike in consumers’ electricity bills.

Citing data from the Independent Energy Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP), Gatchalian said that for the March 2021 billing period, there were 1,580 megawatts (MW) non-coincidental unplanned outages or 61.3% of the total outages.

For the April 2021 billing period but only until April 18, there were 1,428 MW non-coincidental unplanned outages or 62.8% of the total outages, he added.

“Dapat gumalaw dito ang ERC dahil noong November 2020 last year, naglabas sila ng isang polisiya na lahat ng planta ay dapat makapag-deliver batay sa tinatawag na reliability index,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

“Kapag bumagsak sila doon sa polisiya ng ERC at hindi nila ma-justify kung bakit pumalya yung planta, magmumulta sila,” he added.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, also urged the DOE to address any logistical issues being faced y some power producers to prevent similar occurences in the coming weeks as the government plans to intensify its COVID-19 vaccination between May and June.

“Hindi dapat tayo magkaroon ng brownouts dahil padating pa ang mga bakuna natin by the end of this month, May, or June at maseselan itong mga vaccines. May iba na kailangan ng almost subzero freezing temperature o mga freezer na kaya ang negative 20 degrees. Kaya kung may brownout tayo, saan natin ilalagay ang mga bakuna natin? Malaking dagok ‘yan sa atin at maaantala ‘yung vaccination process natin,” he said.

The DOE should also address problems in the delivery of spare parts needed by power plants to prevent simultaneous outages, Gatchalian said.

“Dapat ring imbestigahan ng DOE ang ilang alegasyon tungkol sa logistics. Dahil nga pandemya ngayon, hindi dumarating yung mga spare parts, kaya nagkaka-problema sa logistics. Dapat magawan agad ito ng aksyon para hindi sabay-sabay na bumagsak ang mga planta,” he said.

“Dapat gawin ng pamahalaan ang lahat ng makakaya para maiwasan ang brownout. Kaya ang solusyon dito at all cost – dapat yung mga planta huwag bumagsak, huwag silang mag outage.” he added.

House probe on Ulysses’ floods to focus on finding solutions – Velasco

Robie de Guzman   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday said he wants the panel investigation on the severe flooding that submerged parts of Cagayan and Isabela areas to focus more on coming up with long-term solutions to prevent deaths and economic costs in future disasters.

Velasco issued the statement as the House Committee on Agriculture and Food sets to conduct its probe on Tuesday.

Velasco said the purpose of the probe is to establish facts that could lead to corrective actions, and not to find fault on concerned individuals and agencies.

“We hope to hear everyone’s side and get a clearer picture of the events that transpired when Typhoon Ulysses struck and caused widespread flooding in Luzon,” Velasco said.

“The aim here is to come up with solutions and legislation, if needed, to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives and properties during typhoons,” he added.

Velasco said the congressional hearing will also focus on how to better address proper protocols and preparedness even before a natural disaster strikes.

“There will be more typhoons that will come our way, and we have to become better at preparations and in handling situations that call for sound judgment to prevent deaths and loss of properties from happening,” he said.

The panel has invited officials of the National Irrigation Administration and the local governments of Cagayan and Isabela for the hearing on Tuesday.

The inquiry was called by Velasco, together with Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, through House Resolution No. 1348 into the cause of massive flooding that submerged the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela.

The country was hit by a series of typhoons – Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses – from late October to early November this year.

Ulysses caused heavy damages to infrastructure and agriculture and claimed 73 lives. The typhoon also affected thousands of families in parts of Luzon, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

 The entire Luzon has been placed under a state of calamity following the onslaught of recent typhoons.

Over P100 million worth of assistance provided to families affected by Ulysses — NDRRMC

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Friday said that more than P100 million worth of assistance has been provided to families affected by the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

In its latest situation report, the NDRRMC said a total of P114,615,669.25 worth of aid has been extended to affected families in Regions I, II, III, CALABARZON, V, and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

The NDRRMC indicated in its report that the assistance came from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, local government units, non-government organizations and private groups.

Typhoon Ulysses affected a total of 891,457 families in Regions I, II, III, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, V, National Capital Region, and the Cordillera.

Of this number, 45,906 families remain in evacuation centers.

The number of fatalities remained at 73 while 24 were injured and 19 others went missing.

Around 41 road sections and 42 bridges are still not passable due to the impact of the typhoon.

The entire Luzon region has been placed under a state of calamity due to widespread damage left by Typhoon Ulysses and other strong storms that battered parts of the country in the previous weeks. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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