GRID operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) has asked the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for approval to conduct a study on the Visayas-Mindanao Western Route (Cebu-Negros-Zamboanga del Norte) interconnection project.
In its application for provisional authority before the ERC, the NGCP said the study is important to determine if the project is feasible.
“The feasibility study will determine the best and safest route for the cable and landing of the interconnection that will allow the transfer of excess capacity from Mindanao to the Visayas grid,” said NGCP.
In the feasibility study it earlier commissioned, the NGCP said it found that the proposed Visayas-Mindanao interconnection from Leyte to Surigao would encounter several significant environmental risks and perils.
“There were seismic hazards in the Surigao Strait which may limit the possible viability of the callable routes,” it added.
Because of this, the NGCP has proposed an alternate route for the interconnection project by exploring the western route to connect the Visayas and Mindanao grids.
“With the expected substantial excess capacity in the Mindanao grid due to the upcoming power plants and the possible deficiency in the Visayas grid, the power sharing of reserves must be immediately effected between them,” NGCP said.
The NGCP noted that some 2,400 megawatts (MW) of additional capacity is expected to come online in the Mindanao grid starting 2016 until 2019.
The exchange of reserves, it added, can only be realized through the implementation of the Visayas-Mindanao interconnection project.
“Thus, as an initial step, and similar to the other significant projects in the power industry, NGCP must initially conduct of a feasibility study to determine the best and safest route for the cables and landings of the interconnection,” it said.
The issuance of provisional authority will allow NGCP to immediately start the conduct of the study for the interconnection from Cebu to Negros to Zamboange del Norte.
The feasibility study, which will also assess the risks of the route, is estimated to cost P152.46 million and is targeted to be completed by June 2016.
The Department of Energy (DOE) had directed NGCP to include the Visayas-Mindanao interconnection project in the Transmission Development Plan.
The ERC has already ruled that the interconnection of the two grids “is necessary to open more investment opportunities in Mindanao both in terms of additional power generation and industrial loads.”
RITCHIE A. HORARIO