The management of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) last week promised to assist residents of Capilihan, Virac in seeking compensation for damages to their appliances wrought by the recent “cross-over” of the National Power Corporation’s high voltage wires with FICELCO distribution lines.
In a meeting with representatives of the aggrieved barangay residents, General Manager Engr. Raul V. Zafe said that once he receives the petition of the residents, he will consult the cooperative’s legal counsel and then refer it to the NPC for proper action.
“The affected consumers do not have contractual obligations with NPC,” he stressed. “That is why the cooperative will have to bring the issue to the state power firm which is responsible for the incident.”
In a meeting with some members of the Catanduanes Island Media Club recently, some residents led by Maria Dina Buenafe said that the first incident occurred at about 2 P.M. of Jan. 31, 2021, a Sunday, when the afternoon was rocked by the sharp explosion, with high voltage current damaging home appliances plugged into power outlets.
Assuming that the overload was due to the illegal operation of a welding shop near the barangay hall, they complained to the FICELCO management, which directed the welding shop operator to cease work.
The affected residents were supposed to settle the matter with the operator before the barangay captain when the same incident occurred on Feb. 19, but with four or five explosions.
It soon became apparent to nearby residents that the high voltage wires of the NPC’s transmission line had touched the cooperative’s distribution lines below it, resulting in explosions and sparks as the 69,000 volts of current on the NPC line flowed briefly into FICELCO’s smaller voltage wire.
Strong winds were prevalent during the day, the residents recalled.
As a result, many refrigerators, television sets, and other appliances plugged into power outlets at the time were damaged, with the overvoltage also burning one electric meter.
Barangay chairman Danilo Villanueva also said that one lit bulb at his kitchen exploded while the chargers of cellphones were burnt.
The high voltage that overflowed into Capilihan’s 300 homes reached as far as sitio Mislagan, it is claimed.
GM Zafe confirmed that he sent a team to investigate the report the following day, Feb. 20, and found out that the high tension wire of the NPC transmission line was sagging just 12 inches or 30 centimeters above the cooperative’s distribution lines, instead of the required four meters of clearance.
He said that the recent typhoons apparently caused the NPC wires to sag, which was unfortunately not corrected or restored by the firm.
Explaining what happened during the incident, he disclosed that in the split second that the NPC’s transmission line touched the distribution line, 69,000 volts flowed into the latter line, passing through the transformers and delivering about 2,000 volts of current into nearby homes.
He said that NPC has already sent a team to correct the sagging wires.