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Submarine cable to bring down Bantayan power rate: ERC

ENERGY Regulatory Commission (ERC-Visayas) Director Joel Bontuyan said the submarine cable project of the late Cebu 4th District Rep. Benhur Salimbangon will reduce electricity rate of Bantayan Island.

Salimbangon died of cancer last December 24, 2020, and before he passed away, he told Cebu Business Week of his frustration that his submarine cable project between Cebu mainland and Bantayan Island has been delayed.

He said that last year he asked for the reason of the delay when the project was intended for the people of the entire country. All power consumers in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao are paying Universal Charge for Missionary Electrification (UCME) to subsidize the people in the islands.

Power Advocate Romeo “Butch” Junia said that once the submarine cable will be realized, the ERC or the Department of Energy (DOE) can abolish UCME in the bills of all electricity consumers.

Bontuyan said that Salimbangon attended one of ERC hearings because he wanted Bantayan Island to be connected to the main power grid.

He said Salimbangon’s submarine cable project was already submitted to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) for implementation. He will wait for the Regional Development Council (RDC) to meet again so he will ask NGCP on the project status.

He added that Bantayan Island is being eyed for grid connection because of its high-power usage with 150,000 population.

There is also a study to connect Bantayan Island either in Cebu or Negros Occidental, depending on the circumstances. If it is easy to connect Bantayan Island to Negros Occidental, or they can find a connection there which is nearer so they may connect the island there.

Anyway, he said the main islands in the Visayas are interconnected already. So, it does not really matter where it will be connected. The Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) Grid now includes Bohol which is also connected with Leyte which has several power plants like Tongonan Geothermal. This also connected to Samar and Luzon.

Luzon and Visayas now have common grid. If the connection from Cebu to Dipolog City will be realized, we can connect to the entire Mindanao, and will result to nationwide interconnection. ELIAS O. BAQUERO