Recent brownouts blamed on nine defective gensets

Last week’s unscheduled and sometimes lengthy power interruptions have been blamed on nine defective generators of the Sunwest Water & Electric Co. (SUWECO), the largest power supplier of the First Catanduanes Electric Co. (FICELCO).

According to a top official of the cooperative, the defective power plants as of July 15, 2021 consisted of two (2) 1,000-kilo Watt, one 900-kW and two 1,200-kW gensets at the private company’s Marinawa plant; three units of 830-kW each at its Solong diesel power plant; and, one 900-kW genset at its Viga diesel power plant.

The idled gensets took out a total of 8.69 megawatts from the Catanduanes grid.

Nearly 60,000 members-consumers-owners in the island’s 11 towns require approximately 12 megawatts of electricity on a daily basis.

This does not include the generating assets of the National Power Corporation (NPC), with one of them under repair after the rubber hose of its turbocharger exploded last July 14.

SUWECO’s two mini-hydroelectric power plants in Solong and Hitoma with a combined capability of 3.6 megawatts have not been operating for years after sustaining damage, although it is claimed that the company is now undertaking repair work.

The NPC’s 1.6-mW Balongbong hydro power plant in Bato is operational but it is not being operated by the state-owned firm for lack of a permit to operate from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

A source told the Tribune that NPC sometimes operated the plant to generate power for the grid but it has yet to collect payment from FICELCO due to the lack of power supply agreement.

It may be recalled that NPC, then headed by the late Batonhon President Pio Benavidez Jr., chose not to renew its electricity supply agreement with the cooperative.

This left the co-op to depend on only one power provider, SUWECO, which originally promised renewable power but is now running diesel gensets.

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