Flood hampers Bicol power lines repair

MANILA -- Flooding caused by Typhoon “Tisoy” (Kammuri) is making it difficult for personnel of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to immediately restore the initial 19 transmission line towers that were toppled and 12 other lines that remain de-energized.

In a briefing Wednesday, Frank Mabitasan, NGCP Deputy Vice President for Operations and Maintenance, said 16 of the 19 toppled towers are currently submerged in flood.

He said 208 transmission line poles were affected by the typhoon.

Included in these affected transmission lines are the 20 69-kilovolt lines, or those that provide electricity to consumers that cater to South Luzon and parts of the Visayas-Samar area.

Mabitasan added that 400 NGCP personnel, who are equipped and skilled in restoration, have been sent out to help in the operations.

He assured the public these personnel are experts but pointed out that restoration works are hampered by flooding in most of the affected towers.

Estimate on the cost of damage is also not finalized since assessment on the affected areas is still ongoing, he said.

Mabitasan added that NGCP personnel are doing foot and aerial patrols, as well as using drones, to assess the damage on the transmission lines.

He said some transmission lines have been partially restored thus, electricity was brought back in some areas in Naga City, Camarines Sur, and Gumaca town in Quezon.

Mabitasan said NGCP personnel have been bringing in spares from their emergency restoration system (ERS) to provide temporary power to the affected sub-stations.

“But again, we have no timetable here because we are doing assessment on the lines and also doing restoration of some circuits. We cannot give you timetable yet on the restoration because of the parallel works,” he added.

During the briefing, NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza said that while towers in some areas are not affected by flooding, the flooded access roads prevents NGCP personnel from addressing the issue.

“So it’s a challenge for our O&M (operations and maintenance) under Frank Mabitasan to do the restoration here because apart from the fact that the areas are flooded, access is difficult and we’re worried that the soil or the foundation, even if they put up the ERS or the bypass lines, they might not be on a stable ground,” she added.

Alabanza said they will hold a daily briefing to provide updates on the restoration process.

“We’re all hoping that by Christmas (we can fully restore the power), we can do it but you can just imagine 208 structures, 19 towers that are at least 20 meters tall. It’s a tall order,” she said. (PNA)