Stubborn landowners delay NGCP Work

by Riza Olchondra, 20 August 2015
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

Transmission system operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said problems with uncooperative landowners have hampered the repair of vital lines, similar to a case in the Iloilo province.

Linemen were only able to fully restore power transmission services in 15 municipalities in Iloilo and Antique past 3 a.m. last Aug. 9 after dealing with an uncooperative landowner, the firm said.

The 69-kiloVolt (kV) Sta. Barbara-Sibalom line tripped at 11:25 p.m. on Aug. 7 due to a toppled structure at Brgy. Mambog, Oton, Iloilo. NGCP said it was able to restore the Sta. Barbara-San Miguel line section at 2:01 a.m. on Aug. 8.

The repair of the entire line, however, could have been completed earlier had a landowner immediately allowed the inspection and repair of a toppled structure within his property.

Despite negotiations and repeated pleas, the landowner did not immediately allow NGCP’s line personnel to enter his property. This delayed the restoration of power to customers in the franchise areas of Iloilo Electric Cooperative 1 (Ileco 1) and Antique Electric Cooperative (Anteco).

NGCP said while power interruptions and accidents cannot be entirely avoided, restoration time can be substantially shortened if landowners cooperate.

“We are a private company engaged in a public service. So all our activities are for the direct benefit of a public facility, and the immediate and primary beneficiaries are the consumers of Iloilo, Antique, and the rest of Panay island,” NGCP said.

NGCP legally holds the rights-of-way in areas traversed by its high-voltage lines in Panay, but the landowner in this case is claiming unpaid compensation from the time when the line was still operated and maintained by the government-owned National Power Corp.

NGCP said it was in a “difficult situation” because it was responsible for grid operations and maintenance but the rights-of-way over a great majority of the facilities were not being honored by citizens.

“Under our concession agreement, these rights-of-way for existing facilities are to be handled by government. So in a way, we are held hostage by uncooperative landowners,” NGCP said.

This is not the first time that NGCP operations have been hampered by landowners who refuse access to grid facilities owned by government.

Earlier this month, NGCP reported a two-year delay in its San Jose-Quezon 230-kiloVolt (kV) transmission line upgrade project, citing difficulties enforcing its right-of-way along the path of its transmission line.