Aquino moves to settle ROW issues, power woes in south

by Lenie Lectura – January 9, 2016

from Business Mirror

DAVAO CITY—President Aquino on Friday said that a meeting would be convened next week to address the worsening power situation in Mindanao due to right-of-way (ROW) violations and bombing of transmission towers.

“Meron kaming scheduled meeting by next week, precisely how to address ’yung [isues] on land valuation at ’yung concerns ng mga landowners. Having said that, [since] this is an industry imbued with national interest, surveyors can be utilized to ensure access to repair of the towers,” he said during a brief news conference here after the power plant inauguration of Therma South Inc.’s 300-megawatt (MW) power facility.

Officials from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) will attend the meeting, Mr. Aquino said.

In the past few days, Mindanao was placed on red alert by the grid operator due to the isolation of National Power Corp. (Napocor)-owned generating facilities Agus 1 and Agus 2 hydropower plants. As of 1 p.m., power reserve in Mindanao stood at 76 MW.

The NGCP even warned of a possible grid collapse should the remaining transmission line, which delivers power from Agus hydroelectric power plant, encounters a glitch.

By grid collapse, the NGCP meant that brownouts would likely happen. “It’s the kind that takes several hours to recover from restoration. It’s like restarting a smart phone. So, it takes time,” NGCP Spokesman Cynthia Alabanza said.

The Maramag-Bunawan 138-kiloVolt (kV) line is the remaining line that currently delivers power from the Agus hydro complex. If the said line is in any way compromised, no power will flow from the remaining Agus hydro facilites to south of Mindanao, where the bulk of power demand is located.

Both Davao City and General Santos City are in the south, and are at risk of being completely cut off from the bulk supply coming from the hydro facilites, the NGCP said.

There is only one transmission line left because the NGCP has yet to repair the Agus 2 Kibawe’s 138- kV line. The Agus 1 and 2 hydro facilities are connected to the grid through Agus 2-Kibawe 138-kV line. The NGCP has yet to restore bombed Tower 25 along said Agus 2-Kibawe 138-kV line in Ramain, Lanao del Sur, due to uncooperative landowners. The line has been unserviceable since Christmas Eve, when it was bombed by unidentified lawless elements.

Task force

ENERGY Secretary Zenaida Monsada said a task force is being created to ensure the problems would be addressed at the soonest time possible.

“We are creating a task force, an interagency task force. The proposal is for the executive secretary to head the task force,” Monsada said.

She added that the participation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) is extremely important in mapping out a security plan.

“Bombing is a security issue. So, we need the involvement of the DND and the PNP. That will be the main thing to tackle. What is going to be the strategy here?” Monsada said.

The NGCP is appealing to the public, local and national government, the PNP and Armed Force of the Philippines to help monitor the safety of the towers so that transmission services remain uninterrupted.

The company also appeals to local community leaders to help identify the perpetrators of the bombings, and to negotiate with uncooperative landowners to prevent longer
power interruptions.

NGCP legally holds the right of way in the areas near and around the transmission towers and posts. The assets, however, are still government-owned.

NGCP is a privately owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s power grid.

The consortium, which holds the 25-year concession contract to operate the country’s power transmission network, is comprised of Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. led by Henry Sy, Jr., Calaca High Power Corp. led by Robert Coyiuto, Jr., and the State Grid Corporation of China as technical partner.