A proposed project of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) will bring power-sharing between the Visayas and Mindanao regions and eventually make connection of the country’s 3 grids with the Luzon grid a reality.
NGCP, the country’s sole system grid operator, on Thursday submitted its Visayas-Mindanao Interconnection Project (VMIP) application to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
The project is in support of the government’s priority program on island interconnections.
The application for Provisional Authority (PA) is the product of an NGCP-commissioned hydrographic survey conducted from September to November 2016.
Survey results determined the most viable route beginning in Cebu in the Visayas and terminating in Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte in Mindanao.
Subsequent preparations were made to include the conceptual design, detailed cost estimate and update of the system simulation study using the Cebu-Dipolog route in the ERC application, while inland and route surveys for sub-stations and overhead transmission lines were simultaneously being conducted.
“NGCP submitted to the ERC its application for the implementation of the VMIP. This comes after years of research and careful planning. Finding the safest and most viable route for the project was a long and tedious process, given the many challenges that faced us, like unexploded ordinances, fault lines and submarine volcanic activity. We needed to be careful and sure, as this is going to be the biggest project in the history of the Philippine power industry,” NGCP said.
The grid operator added, “And we are excited to begin. As soon as ERC grants us the provisional authority, NGCP will immediately put into motion plans that will lead to the eventual unification of the country’s three main grids. Barring any delays, we hope to get this done by 2020.”
The 2020 target date is based on a compressed schedule, and assumes no delays, it said.
The NGCP hopes to receive the ERC approval within six months or earlier.
Earlier studies on the project, which focused on the eastern route from Leyte to Surigao, revealed various obstacles including live ordinance (torpedoes and high explosive shells) from the Battle of Surigao in 1944, an underwater volcano, fault lines and seismic hazards such as unstable rock slabs.
Results of previous feasibility studies before the grid operator took over transmission operations prompted it to look for alternative routes.
“NGCP understands that this is a monumental, an expensive project that not all can complete, or even begin, on their own. After years of only feasibility studies to keep the project alive, NGCP, with its able team of technical experts and a wide pool of resources, is taking that needed next step. What the others cannot do, we are doing now,” the company stated.
It is seeking the support of the public and its stakeholders, especially communities that will be traversed by the project.
“NGCP underscores the magnitude and potential impact of this undertaking, not only to Mindanao, but to the country’s power stability. We want this completed on time, making sure that quality of power transmission lines, facilities and services is not compromised. NGCP needs the full support of the government, ERC, DoE, DENR and the different local government units to ensure its timely and quality implementation,” NGCP said.
DoE is the Department of Energy and DENR, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
State-run National Transmission Corp. (TransCo) earlier said the government is considering the option of building the Visayas-Mindanao grid interconnection project, instead of letting NGCP carry it out, according to TransCo president and chief executive officer Melvin Matibag.
The project is part of the concession agreement of the NGCP but TransCo remains the owner of transmission assets.
“It is good that they [NGCP] are adjusting the target to 2020 [to finish the interconnection], but I want to look for a way that the cost of the connection should not be passed on to consumers,” Matibag said.
He explained that under the concession agreement with NGCP, there is a provision that states that development and improvement of the transmission grid is exclusive to the concessionaire.
“I want to define exclusive, the reason being that I want to find out if the government can… do the connection
because apparently, the ballpark figure is around P52 billion, so that will be an additional cost to the consumers.
Because when the time comes, when the concession is finished and the P52 billion cost is not yet paid, the consumers will shoulder the burden,” Matibbag said.
The TransCo president added that they are making some representations in Congress if the cost of the project can be included in the General Appropriations Act.
TransCo was created under Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.