THE National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) is now now doing a fourth study on how to interconnect the power transmission grids between the Visayas and Mindanao.
“That’s been around since the ‘80s, because it has been very difficult, NGCP Spokesperson Cynthia D. Perez-Alabanza told reporters in an interview over the weekend. “But currently, We are already in the fourth route.”
The proposed interconnection does not form part of the third regulatory period from 2010 to 2016. Since the Mindanao power crisis happened in 2010, the Congress and the NGCP were prompted to revisit the feasibility study.
The instruction of NGCP President Henry Sy was to get on with the study even if it was not part of the operational priorities of the company.
“But then the company encountered problems. The proposed project can’t justify the load growth and additional capacity. We said we needed a reason to study,” Alabanza noted.
Since it was brought on the table at the time of Former President Benigno Aquino 3rd and the then-Energy Secretary Rene Almendras, the study encountered hurdles.
“We tried going the route where there is a stable existing transmission network, then inter-island. In the first three routes, there were unexploded mines from WW2, the other one has volcanic activity. Then they said why not follow the cable of the telecom companies because it is already in place,” Alabanza noted.
Alabanza said the fourth route seems to be the the ideal way, but it will take longer because the company is still surveying path, she said.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has recently cited the NGCP for being a slowpoke executing the Visayas-Mindanao interconnection which should happened during the Duterte Administration. The Cabinet official also asked the state-owned National Transmission Corp. (Transco) to review the concession agreement with NGCP.
“Our obligation is to expand, maintain and improve. It’s well within the mandate but we are having in doing it,” Alabanza said.
Laying cables is not the problem, but indentifying the route and negotiating for the right of way that is taking the aroudn 50 percent of the timeframe, she said.