Abra towns lose power as 50-year-old transformer blows up

BAGUIO CITY — At least 18 towns in Abra are in total darkness as an almost half-a-century-old transformer of power distribution utility Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco) blew up resulting in a 20-minute fire at its substation in barangay Calaba, Bangued, Abra’s capital town, on May 5.

Abreco, which has since been taken over by a National Electrification Administration instituted management Task Force Duterte-Abra Power (TFD-AP) more than two years ago because of its deep fiscal ills, admitted that one of its transformers caught fire rendering a total blackout in Tayum, Dolores, San Juan, Tineg, Lagangilang, Lacub, Licuan-Baay, Malibcong, Bucay, Sallapadan, Bucloc, Daguioman, Manabo, Boliney, Luba, all the way up to highland Tubo and at least 5 barangays in Bangued and Lagayan towns.

According to Abreco’s Technical Services Department Manager, Engineer Alexander Molina, the transformer, an Osaka brand power transformer manufactured way back in 1971 and installed in 1972, “may have incurred breakdown brought about by its subjection to many electrical stresses along its feeders since its inception.” 

He admitted that there were no condition monitoring and testing or annual preventive maintenance service (APMS) on the said transformer in recent years, except on 2016.

The transformer was supposed to underdo APMS (this May) after the travel restrictions are lifted this GCQ, Molina added.

TFD-AP vowed to look for a replacement of its busted transformer and restore power in the affected towns, while appealing for “calm and sobriety” from its 45,000 member-consumers. It has instituted rotating blackouts while it waits for the replacement of the 48-year old busted transformer.

The power distribution utility, which has always been at the receiving end of continued criticism because of frequent power outages even after its management overhaul more than two years ago, also vowed it has money to acquire a new transformer replacement.

However, it could not ascertain when power will be restored in all of the 18 towns. ●