MASSIVE power outages may hit Mindanao during the national elections next year if right-of-way (ROW) problems with land owners remain unresolved, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said.
NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza said ROW issue has already reached critical levels with the sustained tripping of the Agus 2-Kibawe Line 1 in Mindanao, usually caused by a fallen tree that cuts off the line conductors.
“This leaves NGCP with only one line catering to the Agus 1 and 2 power plants and threatening the entire Mindanao Island with complete isolation from these hydropower plants should the remaining line become unavailable,” NGCP said.
NGCP said the situation is further aggravated as landowners are refusing entry to NGCP personnel deployed to clear and restore these lines which are vital to the grid.
“Mindanao already suffers deficiency from energy and the problem aggravates the situation,” Alabanza told a press briefing.
Gil Listano, head of operations and maintenance of NGCP, said massive power outages could occur in the future and possibly affect next year’s national elections if the issue is not resolved.
“If the owners will not allow us to enter their land to repair or maintain our transmission facilities, there will be problems in the future,” Listano said.
He said the NGCP is seeking the immediate assistance of the government and members of the Philippine Army to help resolve the problem.
“It has become the practice of some uncooperative landowners to intentionally plant trees or build structures under high voltage transmission lines, and demand for recompense when we seek entry into the property to conduct maintenance activities,” said NGCP.
The NGCP pointed out that trees and other structures under its facilities breach its safety clearances and endanger the reliability of the entire grid.
The company has asked the Department of Energy (DOE) and Philippine Army to assist in the negotiations with landowners and clearing of the lines, respectively, as soon as possible.
According to the NGCP, the frequent dips in voltage and frequency severely affect both household appliances and industrial equipment.
“NGCP is seeking all avenues of support, from the DOE to the military to the public. We are also appealing to the local government units for a resolution prohibiting tree-planting and building any structure under transmission lines,” it added.
The grid operator warned that this does not only affect NGCP or the hydro power plants, which form the bulk of their power supply, but all the power consumers in Mindanao stand to bear even longer power interruptions.