By Francis Allan L. Angelo
“I want more justice for Ilonggos. We must outdo ourselves.”
This is the pledge of Mr. Roel Z. Castro, President and CEO of MORE Electric and Power Corp, as Iloilo City’s power distributor marked two important milestones.
On February 14, 2019, then-President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act 11212 which granted the Enrique Razon-led MORE Power the franchise to distribute electricity in Iloilo City.
A year later on February 28, 2020, MORE Power began its commercial operations, an arduous task for a “newbie” in the energy sector but became the benchmark of what a modern distribution system ought to be.
MORE Power buckled down to work and began the Herculean task of overhauling and rehabilitating the most basic facilities, particularly the substations and power lines which were literally overheating to full capacity.
Almost all of the five substations were in derelict condition and were approaching maximum capacity, posing challenges to the grid’s reliability and stability.
MORE Power also had to contend with more than 30,000 old and defective meters, massive pilferage by unscrupulous consumers, and very high systems loss (supply lost to technical reasons and pilferage) of almost 30 percent, compared to the cap set by the Energy Regulatory Commission at 5.5.
Moving forward, MORE Power invested heavily in rehabilitating old facilities and procuring new ones to replace the derelict ones. The firm also ran after power thieves and even hauled them to court if necessary. Distribution lines and poles were replaced by insulated and sturdier ones and new technologies and gadgets were installed to lessen unscheduled power interruptions.
The results are all in the numbers:
-the number of consumers ballooned from 62,000 to more than 90,000 in three years;
-the duration of unscheduled power interruptions was shortened from an average of 82 minutes in 2020 to 35 minutes so far in 2022;
-the frequency of unscheduled power interruptions was also reduced from 1.77 a day in 2020 to 0.71 so far in 2022;
-the campaign against power pilferers resulted in 1,606 demand letters sent, 1,193 cases settled, and 136 active cases against pilferers.
-system loss, a burden shared both by legitimate consumers and MORE Power, was reduced from 30 percent in 2020 to 6.6 by December 2022.
MORE Power has also completed the acquisition of two Mobile Substations that will help in the rehabilitation of land-based/stationary substations; and the construction of the 69kV Switching Station in Banuyao, Lapaz.
Ongoing projects include the 30/36 MVA Substation at the Megaworld area and the proposed 33 MVA Substation at Diversion Road also in Mandurriao.
Other major projects in the pipeline are the following:
- Molo Substation Rehabilitation
- Mandurriao Substation Rehabilitation
- Jaro Substation Rehabilitation & Upgrade (from 10MVA to 36MVA)
- Lapaz Substation Rehabilitation
- Arevalo 20MVA Substation
- a brand new and modern corporate building and control center in the Diversion area.
MORE Power will also harness modern technology using the geographical information system and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) so it can track down the distribution system in real-time.
Mr. Castro described the future of the grid system as “talking to each other” so they can reconfigure the system when there are sudden and unscheduled interruptions.
“The substations and feeders will be talking to each other in real-time so we can react and reconfigure the system if there are brownouts. That will result in shorter and fewer interruptions because all the components of the grid can fill in the void. If one substation or feeder loses supply, the other facilities can take over and resume supply at the fastest time possible,” he explained.
But Mr. Castro said they are not contented with their achievements so far as they want to bring more to consumers by way of a more reliable and stable supply system.
Their vision is that by February 2025, there will be zero scheduled interruptions with the completion of the rehabilitation and modernization works.
MORE Power will also strive to operationalize the state-of-the-art Control Center and put up a robust distribution system with maximum tolerance to causes of unintended outages.
With the improved system, MORE Power will have the capability to handle bigger demand from consumers and industries. It will also aim to permanently convert all remaining illegal connections to legitimate customers.
Mr. Castro said their plans will redound to more justice for legitimate consumers who deserve affordable and reliable power supply.
“In the case of system loss, we aim to lower it below the 5.5 percent cap to lessen the burden of our consumers who actually share in paying for that lost supply. For us, the consumers always deserve more, that’s why we try to do more,” he said.