FICELCO needs 21 more teams to meet Jan. 31 restoration deadline

At least 21 more teams from the Power Restoration Rapid Deployment (PRRD) – Task Force Kapatid are needed to meet the original 100% household restoration deadline of Jan. 31, 2021, the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) clarified last week.

General Manager Raul Zafe and Board President Rodolfo Vargas issued the clarification last Thursday, Jan. 14, at the cooperative’s Marinawa headquarters.

Based on its Power Restoration Plan furnished the Tribune, an additional five (5) task force teams are required in the restoration of the backbone lines that will start by Jan. 18.

This is aside from the seven teams from mainland Bicol electric cooperatives that already started working on the island on Jan. 7 and 8, GM Zafe disclosed.

For the restoration of primary lateral and secondary lines of the remaining 9,680 households that will start also on Jan. 18, the effort requires 20 task force teams.

At present, only one team, from the Sorsogon Electric Cooperative I. and three teams from FICELCO are assigned in the laterals and secondary lines, with five more working on the connection of service drop wires with at least one to two linemen each, the GM added.

Likewise, each of the teams from the PRRD-Task Force Kapatid and FICELCO should have at least one (1) boom truck with auger for drilling post holes.

FICELCO will also hire at least six (6) laborers to be assigned as ground men for each task force team if their equipment consists only of a boom truck without an auger. Only three (3) laborers are required per team if it has a boom truck equipped with auger.

With the current manpower supplied by the PRRD-Task Force Kapatid teams as well as FICELCO’s 11 teams, the earliest that the restoration of the backbone lines could be completes is by Feb. 15, 2021, with the 100% household restoration target to follow three weeks later on Mar. 21, 2021, the FICELCO plan revealed.

As of Jan. 15, 2021, electricity has been restored to 31,315 households in 211 barangays or 77.26% of 40,534 homes that can be safely connected to the grid. The totally damaged 15,124 households that cannot be energized have been excluded from the count.

By town, the percentage of barangays in the 11 towns in which power has been restored is as follows: Bagamanoc, 83% (15 of 18); Baras, 41% (12 of 29); Bato, 51% (14 of 27); Caramoran, 88% (24 of 27); Gigmoto, 22% (2 of 9); Pandan, 100% (26 of 26); Panganiban, 78% (18 of 23); San Andres, 42% (16 of 38); San Miguel, 16% (4 of 24); Viga, 80% (25 of 31); and, Virac, 87% (55 of 63).

Most of the remaining households for restoration are near lines traversing mountains, crossing rivers and far from poblacion areas, the report stated.

A total of 2,526 primary and secondary poles were broken during super typhoon Rolly and of this number, 1,653 or 65% have been replaced. Of the 1,393 primary poles which had leaned and/or had broken pole top assembly, 67% have been re-erected.

The same report disclosed that 311.428 kilometers of power lines have now been energized, with another 191.24 kilometers still to be connected, mostly along the Bato-Baras-Gigmoto-Panay island corridor.

Meanwhile, continued restoration work and increasing load on the island grid prompted FICELCO to divert a team to reconnect the damaged tie line linking the Solong diesel power plant and mini-hydroelectric plant to the Marinawa substation.

GM Zafe said the Solong power plants operated by Sunwest Water & Electricity Co. (SUWECO) have been reconnected to the grid as of Jan. 15, 2021 but plants have yet to be operated due to some technical issue.

Two modular gensets of the private firm at FICELCO’s old Marinawa plant conked out last week, causing power outages in Virac and San Andres.

This forced the co-op to ask the National Power Corporation (Napocor) to run its idled Daihatsu 3.6-megawatt diesel genset to handle the shortfall.

Personnel from the cooperative, SUWECO and Napocor also helped in repairing the Solong tie line, which reportedly cost about P300,000 to restore.

In the “islanding” scheme employed in Baras and Gigmoto to provide power to its poblacion barangays, GM Zafe said the diesel generator provided by SUWECO in Baras is operating 12 to 24 hours each day but the old 50-kW genset installed in Gigmoto by the same company is producing only 30-kW of dependable load good only for lighting purposes.

He bared that at peak load, the demand of connected towns to the grid is now about 8 megawatts, which is a bit lower than the 7.8-mW dependable load available on the grid.

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