National Grid blames trees for Mindanao blackout


ZAMBOANGA CITY: The National Grid Corp. (NGCP) has again blamed landowners for their failure to protect its power pylons following a massive blackout in the entire Zamboanga Peninsula, Misamis Occidental and some parts in Lanao del Norte.

NGCP blamed “maliciously” planted trees between two power pylons in Iligan City in Lanao del Norte for causing the outage in the provinces on Friday. It said branches of trees touched the power lines that resulted in the power outage of the 138KV line of Agus 5.

“The outage of Agus 5-Aurora 138KV was caused by maliciously planted trees which touched the conductors between Tower numbers 2 and 3 in Ditucalan, Iligan City,” NGCP said.

The massive power outage affected many electric cooperatives in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga City, including those in Misamis and Lanao provinces.

In Zamboanga City, electricity was cut off in the morning and was only restored around 3 p.m. and many residents complained about frequent low voltage and sudden outages, and fluctuation of power over the past weeks.

It was not known why NGCP failed to maintain its private towers or workers to clean the surroundings of their pylons. The NGCP even delegates the maintenance of the security of these structures to the military despite its being a private company.

NGCP has repeatedly blamed landowners near power pylons every time there are outages or blackout in Mindanao. Even when rebels bombed steel pylons, NGCP would fault landowners where the structures are located for not immediately allowing their linemen to make the necessary repairs.

Landowners have also accused NGCP of trespassing and allegedly harassing them into agreeing to allow workers to fix damaged pylons without permission from them. Many landowners claimed the NGCP does not pay them for the use of their land.

Last year, rebels bombed Tower 25 in Linamon village in Ramain town, Lanao del Sur, effectively cutting off electricity in many areas there. The steel pylon is part of the 138 kilovolt Agus 2-Kibawe line. It was the second time that the tower had been attacked since 2015 and the 6th bombing of NGCP towers in 2016.

NGCP blamed the Sambitore family on whose land the tower is erected for allegedly not cooperating with them and refusing them access to conduct repairs of the damaged pylon.
Two power pylons were also bombed in North Cotabato province in 2016.

The twin bombings of Towers 95 and 96 of the Kibawe-Kabacan 138-kilovolt line occurred in the villages of Kitulaan and Aroman in Carmen town. Tower 63 in the town of Aleosan, North Cotabato was also bombed, two months after it was toppled by a blast in January.


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