Load shedding seen as SUWECO fails to complete gensets’ repair

Brownouts are forecast for the last week of 2021 as Sunwest Water & Electricity Co. (SUWECO) reportedly failed to live up to its vow to repair of its defective diesel generating sets before Christmas Day.

A top official of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) told the Tribune last Sunday that SUWECO had earlier promised improved power supply during a coordination meeting held days before Dec. 25.

During said meeting, the private power company assured the repair of its defective gensets and the transfer of three modular gensets from the Solong Diesel Power Plant to its Marinawa DPP, which is closer to the switchyard.

However, the transfer suffered a setback after the crane being used to lift the gensets broke down.

In an interview last Dec. 23, FICELCO General Manager Engr. Raul Zafe said that SUWECO management assured him that the crane would be repaired in time to complete the genset transfer by Dec. 24 and ensure normal operation by that time.

Last Sunday, a source told this paper that none of SUWECO’s promises have been realized, with the entire Catanduanes grid most likely to suffer load shedding or rotating brownouts in the next few days.

A power outlook dated Dec. 22, 2021 and signed by SUWECO Business Unit Head Floro Barrameda showed that it could only deliver a total of 5,460 kilowatts, less than one-third of its total dependable capacity of 17,750 kilowatts.

Only five of its 18 diesel gensets were operating as of that day, with a combined output of 4,460 kilowatts.

The other one kilowatt is being supplied by the Solong Hydroelectric Power Plant, which is generating less than half of its dependable capacity of 2,100 kilowatts.

Of the seven gensets at Solong DPP, four are being transferred to Marinawa, with one of them scheduled for repair.

At Marinawa DPP, only one of the seven gensets are operational and producing only 900 kilowatts. One genset has been pulled out, three are slated for alternator replacement, one is under troubleshooting and the last was stripped of its alternator for use in a defective genset in Marinawa.

The situation is much better at Viga DPP where two of three gensets are working while the third is for capacitor replacement.

In a bit of good news, SUWECO’s Hitoma 1 hydroelectric power plant in Caramoran has resumed operation after being idled for over a year due to damage sustained during super typhoon Rolly in 2020.

In a letter dated Dec. 22, 2021, Hitoma HPP Plant Head Noli Turbolencia informed the cooperative the plant went back on line at 2:47 PM of Dec. 21, with Unit 2 tied up to the grid with an initial load of just 50 kilowatts.

As the company’s production is just about half of the grid’s peak demand of 11 to 12 megawatts, GM Zafe said that he has requested the National Power Corporation to operate their power plants pursuant to an interim power supply agreement that allows it to operate as needed in the grid.

It may be recalled that in recent weeks the inadequate supply has resulted in recurrent short-lived brownouts and intermittent load shedding.

That intermittent and brief power interruptions could worsen into hours-long outages as NPC has reportedly informed that the cooling system of its 3.6-megawatt Daihatsu diesel genset is defective and needs to be repaired first.

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