By: Daxim L. Lucas - 05:19 AM February 06, 2017
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines has completed the first step toward unifying the nation’s three power grids after a recently conducted hydrographic survey found the country’s western seaboard suitable for the laying of a Visayas-Mindanao submarine power cable.
This route—beginning in Cebu and terminating in Dipolog and slated to cost the company P52 billion to execute —was determined to be feasible under a company-commissioned study conducted from September to November 2016.
With the Luzon and Visayas electricity grids long having been connected via NGCP’s Naga–Ormoc High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) line, the proposed Visayas-Mindanao connection will help ensure that electricity can be distributed and shared among the country’s three island groups, helping mitigate shortages when power plants shut down in one area or another.
Barring unforeseen circumstances and unavoidable delays, the project is estimated to be completed by December 2020.
“NGCP is pleased to report that we already finished the hydrographic survey that will determine the route of the Visayas-Mindanao Interconnection Project (VMIP),” the company said in a statement. “With this development, we now have a clearer plan on the project’s implementation. Power resource sharing between the country’s major islands will now become a reality.”
Previous feasibility studies conducted by the state-owned National Power Corp., one dating back to as early as 1984, were deferred by the government, which was then the grid operator.
An earlier study conducted by NGCP showed eastern routes as unsuitable for submarine cable ground laying because of a significant quantity of 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 that can cause landslips and tsunamis.
NGCP is seeking the support of the public and its stakeholders for the full and immediate implementation of the project.
“NGCP assures its stakeholders of the company’s dedication to determine the most reliable and cost-efficient path to completion,” the firm said. “This is a large undertaking. We want this facility to be state-of-the-art as well as sturdy enough to last generations. We are considering many factors in the design and implementation of the project, including changing weather conditions. Ensuring the quality and reliability of power transmission services to both Visayas and Mindanao customers is of paramount importance.”
With the hydrographic survey result, NGCP will now proceed with the preparation of a conceptual design, detailed cost-estimate and update of system simulation study using the Cebu-Dipolog route in order to complete documents needed for its ERC application by April this year.
Inland and route surveys for substations and associated overhead transmission lines will also coincide with the preparation of documents.
“We need the support of the government, the Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the different local government units the project will traverse, among others, to push this forward. With their full support, we are confident that we will be able to complete this project on time,” the company said.
NGCP is a privately owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining and developing the country’s power grid. It transmits high-voltage electricity through “power superhighways” that include the interconnected system of transmission lines, towers, substations and related assets.