Energy spox: More stable, better electricity service in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Energy (DOE) conducted an after-action review (AAR) last February 22, as the sector’s response to better and improve electrical and energy services in the region after the parade of typhoons destroyed electric lines in about three provinces – Albay, Catanduanes and Camarines Sur – in Bicol.

Energy Spokesperson and Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said, Thursday, at Ugnayan sa Bicol that AAR served as an avenue for the performance assessment of the electric cooperative’s preparedness before, during, and after last year’s disasters.

The Task Force on Energy Resiliency (TFER), created by DOE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi under the Energy Resiliency Policy, headed the AAR. The task force is composed of government and private entities that act to immediately respond and strengthen electric systems.

Based on their assessments, Fuentebella said that four areas of energy resiliency need to be checked regularly in order to yield better protocols and actions in preparation for the next rainy season to come. These are: Infrastructure strengthening, system establishment, stockpiling, and response recovery.

“In matters of infrastructure, mas pinapalakas pa natin ang standard para sa mga gamit ng electric coop. [Titingnan kung] mas makapal ba na poste ang gagamitin, pipinturahan ba ng anti-rust proofing bago ibaon ang mga poste, dapat ba ireroute yung mga nalalagyan ng poste para sa tabi ng daan (In matters of infrastructure, we are improving the standard of the equipment to be used by electric cooperatives. It will be monitored to see if thick electric poles will be used, if anti-rust proofing is necessary to apply or if rerouting of pole positioning is needed),” he said.

Fuentebella said that ‘prepositioning’ is also part of their after-action wherein linemen have position equipment and workforce to the target areas even before typhoon enters the country.

“Pagtama ng bagyo, assess agad, tapos kailangan naayos na nila ang prepositioning sa areas. Minsan hindi makatawid kasi may baha (After typhoon strikes, immediate assessment should follow. Prepositioning should be done properly ahead. Transferring and evacuation could be hard, especially for flooded areas),” he adds.

Without immediate assessment, said Fuentebella, linemen will not easily respond to their services.

‘Electricity coop to establish sinking fund’

One of the good strategies of other electricity cooperatives, Fuentabella found out, is to come up with sinking funds which are allotted budget for typhoon response.

For Albay’s case where dispute between consumers and coop is still an underlying issue, dialogues among clients with arrears were conducted. Restructuring of loans were also made so that APEC will be financially ready.

That is why, the energy department made presentations with Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to show that electric coops should be financially strong so that we can secure a better electric services.

DOE orders stable electricity supply for vaccination rollout

Since the start of inoculation of vaccines in Bicol started today, Fuentebella said that the DOE has ordered the electric cooperatives to ensure a stable power supply. Coops can provide generating set or power back-up to referral hospitals where vaccination is being conducted.

On March 2, Sec. Cusi directed all generation companies and other power stakeholders to ensure reliable and stable electric power supply during the government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. This complements the earlier directive to the distribution utilities issued on 16 February 2021 for the same purpose. (By Keren Anne V. Bernadas, PIA5)