Palace help sought to thwart outages

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TO avert looming power outages in Mindanao, the Department of Energy (DOE) has asked for urgent intervention by Malacañang in solving right-of-way problems for transmission posts.

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DOE Officer-in-Charge Zenaida Monsada on Friday said the Mindanao grid is in danger of experiencing massive blackouts because of such problems of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

Monsada, in her memorandum to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., asked the Palace for “urgent intervention to resolve the immediate threat to the electricity supply in the Mindanao grid.”

The NGCP said the perennial right-of-way problems in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur affect operations of the Agus hydroelectric plants and impact critically on power supply demand in the grid.

Because of these problems, the NGCP said four lines are already out of service–Baloi-Agus 6 69kv line, Agus 4 Baloi line 2, Agus 2 Baloi line 1 and Agus 2 Baloi line 2.

Power is still able to pass through a transmission line leading to the Kibawe sub-station so that electricity can be transported to Davao, General Santos City and other areas.

But this transmission line is also in danger of being sabotaged by trees deliberately planted by land owners.

The grid operator said the right-of-way problems are caused by the landowners who plant trees directly under transmission lines.

Some of the trees, it added, have grown, reaching the transmission lines.

The NGCP said the trees, in strong or stormy winds, can again topple NGCP’s transmission and cable lines, especially those in mountainous areas.

While it is ready to pay for fair value of the trees that need to be cut down, 147 landowners allegedly are demanding higher payment.

But the NGCP explained that it had obtained rights-of-way even before the government’s National Transmission Corp. or National Power Corp. operated the transmission lines.

When asked what impact will this have on overall power supply in Mindanao, it said there will be massive blackouts since around half of the whole supply in the region will be gone.

Industries will also suffer losses because of outages and voltage dips, NGCP added.

The DOE said it shares the concern of the NGCP on potentially disrupting effects on Mindanao’s power supply of vegetation deliberately planted along transmission lines.

“We note that the recent tripping of the Baloi-Agus 4 138kV Lines 1 and 2 was already due to the vegetation planted in the right-of-way of NGCP’s transmission lines,” it added.

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