By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 22, 2017 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Energy (DOE) has tapped China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) and State Grid Corp. of China in exploring ways to speed up transmission development in Mindanao as well as the grid interconnection with Visayas.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said he has discussed with his counterpart in China for assistance in the transmission development in Minda-nao, from developing grid backbones down to distribution of power to the household level.
“It’s the technical assistance that we are asking, how do we speed up implementation of the transmission development plan… They have the experience, so we want to learn from them, not necessarily the actual work, but our people being trained for human resource development,” he said.
The energy chief said Mindanao’s energization is only at 74 percent, compared with Luzon and Visayas’ electrification levels at 95.5 percent and 94 percent, respectively.
“If we are to have peace in Mindanao, we have to energize all the households,” Cusi said.
Critical to Mindanao’s development is the completion of the much-delayed Visayas-Mindanao Interconnection Project (VMIP).
Interconnection between island grids allows both grids to get supply from each other in times of supply shortfall. Currently, only Luzon and Visayas are interconnected while Mindanao is isolated.
The proposal to link the Visayas and Mindanao grids has been there since the 1980s when the operation and management of the national grid was still under government through the National Transmission Corp. (TransCo).
The task was later transferred to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) when it clinched a 25-year concession to run the country’s transmission network in 2009.
Currently, Cusi said the DOE is studying whether the VMIP would be constructed by TransCo or NGCP.
“What we’re doing is we’re looking for ways that we can do it fast and at the least cost to lessen the burden to consumers,” he said. “We are just finishing the work we need to do, and we will be making an announcement soon. whatever is the fastest means to do it, we will do it.”
Part of the study is also finding options to finance the massive power infrastructure project.
“I was talking to the representative of the World Bank on a possible zero interest loan for the transmission development and the interconnection… we’re looking for the best option. We can also use the Malampaya fund,” Cusi said.