DOE eyes underground wires to power Yolanda-hit areas

By Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2014 07:02 PM | Updated as of Mar 26 2014 03:02 AM

TACLOBAN - The Department of Energy (DOE) is experimenting on using underground wires to distribute electricity to households in Yolanda-hit areas.

On the sidelines of the Donors Forum for Yolanda-affected areas organized by German aid agency GIZ, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said a 17-kilometer underground wire will be embedded along the Eastern seaboard, which will be experimental in nature.

The area will be near households in Palo and Tanauan in Leyte.

The government is expected to spend half a billion pesos for the project, which will come from its rehabilitation program fund.

Petilla said the government will need to look into “typhoon-resistant” lines that can withstand any disaster in the future.

“We have done some energization despite the magnitude of [Yolanda]. We continue to do so and we will find ways that our lines become typhoon-resistant,” he said.

In the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda in November last year, almost 100 transmission towers were toppled.

The DoE had to bring in generation sets to bring back the electricity before Christmas Day. Over the next few days, Petilla – who also hails from Leyte – will go around the province to check on the power situation.

In Tacloban, 85% has been energized so far. Newly constructed or rehabilitated homes have come back on line only recently, which explains the backlog, he said.

“You can’t just energize the homes if the lines are down,” he said.

Petilla said some areas expect a zero backlog by March 31.

“Everybody wants to come back to Leyte, but their question is not if they have a home, but if there is electricity,” he said.

Amid all these, politics continue to dog Petilla. Senator Serge Osmena described him and President Aquino as awful managers because of the way they’re handling the country’s energy situation.

“He’s an intelligent person, I respect his opinion…As long as the president has confidence in me, [I will do my job],” he said.

He dismissed talk that his going around Leyte is because he wants to become an elected official again.

“I don’t know why people are saying that,” he said.