ERC set to hear Visayas-Mindanao interconnection project on Feb. 19

by Lenie Lectura – February 1, 2016

from Business Mirror

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is set to tackle two vital applications filed by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), one of which is meant to “open more investment opportunities in Mindanao, both in terms of additional power generation and industrial loads.”

The regulator, in two separate orders, said the NGCP’s applications for the conduct of a study on the proposed Visayas-Mindanao interconnection project and its proposed capital expenditures (capex) this year are “sufficient in form and subtstance.”

As such, the NGCP’s applications filed last year are “set for jurisdictional hearing, expository presentation, pretrial conference and evidentiary hearing.”

The NGCP’s application for the conduct of a P152.47-million study on the proposed Visayas-Mindanao interconnection project will be heard on February 19.

In the said application, the grid operator stressed the urgency for the Visayas and Mindanao grids to be interconnected.

The NGCP said a 2,400 megawatts (MW) of additional capacity is expected to be injected into the Mindanao grid from FDC power plant (405 MW by 2016); GN Power Coal (450 MW by 2017; 150 MW by 2018); Therma South Coal (300 MW by 2015, 150 MW by 2017; 150 MW by 2018); SMC Davao Coal (150 MW by 2015; 150 MW by 2016; 150 MW by 2017; 150 MW by 2018).

“With an unexpected substantial capacity in the Mindanao grid due to the upcoming power plants and the possible deficiency in the Visayas grid, power sharing of reserves must be immediately effected between them,” the NGCP said.

These exchanges, added the NGCP, can only be realized through the implementation of the Visayas-Mindanao interconnection project.

If the ERC issues a provisional authority, the NGCP can immediately commence the conduct of the study for the Visayas-Mindanao Western Route (Cebu-Negros-Zamboanga del Norte) interconnection project phase 1.

The NGCP’s other application, involving a capex of P8 billion, is also up for hearing on April 4.

The new projects that the NGCP plans to undertake are the Tiwi Substation upgrading project, Naga Substation upgrading project, Clark-Mabiga 69-kiloVolt (kV) transmission line project, Bataan 230-kV grid reinforcement project and the Hermosa-San Jose 500-kV transmission line project.

“One of the core mandates of the NGCP is to implement upgrading and expansion programs to ensure that the system adequately and reliably meets forecast demand, system reliability, demand market requirements and capacity of new generators,” the NGCP said in its application.

Part of the capex also includes acquisition of the following transmission line assets: CEDC-Veco’s Colon 138-kV line; Calung-Calung 138-kV line; New Salong 230-kV substation and Salong Calaca 230-kV line; Ingore CTS, Ingore-Sawang 138-kV submarine cable, Sawang CTS, Sawang Zaldivar substation; and CIP II substation, Bacnotam-Malabanengbeng lines 1 and 2, and Mabaneng beng-Holcim 69-kV line.

Likewise, the NGCP is also required to ensure a reliable and efficient operation of existing transmission line and substation equipment; and to guarantee a safe and reliable energy supply to the distribution utility. To comply with this mandate, the NGCP needs to implement, among others, rehabilitation, refurbishment, testing activities to the existing transmission line and substation assets.

The NGCP is required to seek prior approval from the ERC for any plan to expand or improve its facilities.

“Thus, to avoid disruption of operation and noncompliance with its mandate under the Epira [Electric Power Industry Reform Act] as the transmission operator, it is imperative that the implementation of the proposed capex projects be immediately approved,” the NGCP said.