By Donnabelle Gatdula Updated April 26, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – A 10-hour blackout swept the entire Visayas yesterday due to the ongoing maintenance work of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

Affected were the islands of Panay, Guimaras, Cebu, Negros, Bohol, Siquijor, Leyte, Samar and Biliran.

At 6 p.m. yesterday, power was fully restored in Cebu, Leyte, Samar and Bohol; the Negros provinces, 65 percent, and Panay Island, 40 percent. Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental still had no power as of presstime because its Amlan substation had a problem on its transformer, according to the Energy Development Corp. (EDC)

Sources at the NGCP’s regional control center said the 230kV Marshalling to Tabango Line 2 tripped at 9:38 a.m. while Line 1 was shut down upon the request of the EDC plant in Leyte for metering equipment maintenance work.

The sources said the cause of tripping was still being verified.

Carmela Castillo, NGCP corporate communications officer for the Visayas, said both 230kV power lines are being used to transmit power from Leyte to Cebu and the other island grids in the Visayas.

A NGCP report showed that the load of the Leyte-Cebu subcable was 330 megawatts when the line tripped, resulting in the tripping of the Cebu-Negros- Panay (CNP) power generation plants, causing a near total blackout.

The NGCP said the synchronized Negros-Panay submarine cable was restored at 5:18 p.m.

EDC vice president for power generation Danny Catigtig said their plants already went online at about 2:30 p.m. but not with full load as some lines were still not restored.

EDC deputy president and chief operating officer Ricky Tantoco said, “The Visayas grid blackout was caused by grid disturbance at 9:38 a.m.”

NGCP last week warned of frequent power outages due to maintenance works nationwide.

Blackout caused heavy traffic in Cebu

The region-wide blackout caused heavy traffic congestion in Cebu City’s major intersections and led to several road accidents.

There were 17 vehicular accidents responded to by traffic investigators as of 3 p.m. yesterday and these happened because some of the drivers ignored the signs of traffic enforcers manning the intersections, radio operator Rosario Torres of the City Traffic Operations Management said.

Torres said the road accidents took place in different areas in the city’s north district, particularly in the downtown area and other major intersections along Gorordo and Gen. Maxilom avenues.

Jun Canton, spokesman of the Philippine Airlines, said that despite the blackout, none of their flights were canceled as they had their own standby power for computers and lights.

Robert Go, who owns the chain of retail store Prince Warehouse, said the blackout was unannounced and thus very detrimental for business.

Go, also the director of the Philippine Retailers Association, said he could not quantify the amount of damage the blackout had left business establishments.

“Having a (blackout) like this drives away foreign investors. This is not good for our country,” Go said.

People seeking “refuge” from the summer sun at the malls yesterday found no respite from the heat.

Internet cafés also had to shut down their operations, which meant a day of lost income. – With The Freeman, Antonieta Lopez and Miriam Desacada


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