(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 3, 2017 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The completion of the Visayas-Mindanao grid interconnection project by 2020 will be among the top priorities of the new leadership of National Transmission Co. (TransCo), which will review the grid operator’s concession agreement with government.
“We are targeting 2020 [for the Visayas-Mindanao grid connection],” newly-installed Transco president and CEO Melvin Matibag said in a briefing.
The project is part of the concession agreement of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the nationwide grid operator.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier said the grid connection should be finished within the Duterte administration or before 2022.
Pushing for an earlier target would allow fasttracking of a one-grid system, which will benefit customers particularly Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) areas, Department of Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said in the same briefing.
NGCP clinched a 25-year concession to run the country’s transmission network after it took over the management of the power grid in 2008 from state-owned TransCo.
Currently, only Luzon and Visayas are interconnected while Mindanao is isolated. Interconnection between Luzon and Visayas allows both grids to get supply from each other in times of supply shortfall.
NGCP is currently undertaking a study for the western interconnection route of the Visayas and Mindanao grids after encountering issues on the eastern side.
The eastern route traverses from Southern Leyte to Surigao del Norte while the western option will run from Cebu-Negros to Zamboanga del Norte.
A previous study showed there were geophysical issues in the eastern route of the interconnection.
Ensuring that NGCP follows through its commitments under its concession agreement is among the marching orders of the energy chief, Matibag said.
“We have to review the concession agreement or the franchise agreement of NGCP, that we take a closer look of compliance if it’s being done religiously,” he said. “We have to ensure the development of our transmission grids so that it will be siginificant to the national development of the agenda of President Duterte.”
The new TransCo chief also said he will look at the possibility of using the transmission network to improve the country’s data services.
“We will try to look into the possibility of other use of the grid, of our transmission so that it can also somehow help in lowering costs. Under the concession, if there is any related business that is not necessarily transmission, which can be used by the concessionaire, whatever earnings they will get from that should be used to lower the electricity rates,” Matibag said.
With NGCP’s fiber optics network, government will not have to go through telecom companies to provide and improve data services.
Fuentebella said there is a provision under the law to allow the use of the transmission grid’s fiber optics in cable television and internet program for communications.
“It’s taking advantage of right-of-way,” he said.