Filipinos exclusively control transmission grid, says NGCP

By Alena Mae S. Flores – November 27, 2019 at 07:50 pm

National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said Wednesday the country’s transmission network operator remains under the exclusive control of Filipinos to allay fears that China might have the capability to remotely shut down the Philippines’ power infrastructure.

“There is nothing to be alarmed about the stake by the State Grid Corporation of China in NGCP as its investment is limited only to being a technical adviser,” said NGCP president and chief executive Anthony Almeda.

SGCC has a 40-percent stake in NGCP, while the remaining 60 percent is controlled by Filipino companies Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. and Calaca High Power Corp. with 30-percent shares, each.

NGCP said only three nominees from SGCC sit as members of the NGCP board of directors.

“SGCC serves only as the technical adviser of the consortium, but the management and the control of NGCP, including its systems operation, are exclusively exercised by Filipinos,” Almeda said.

He said the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition―the system that controls the grid―is operated only by authorized Filipino technical experts of NGCP.

“By default, SCADA is disconnected from the Virtual Private Network; thus, remote users cannot connect to SCADA,” Almeda said.

“VPN access may only be granted to the Filipino CEO in an emergency situation and only after undergoing a secure and confidential approval process,” he said.

NGCP said that since it commenced operations in 2009 when it took over operations from the government, the approval process for the VPN access had not been invoked and no remote access had been granted.

Almeda said the NGCP Systems Operation Datacenter is equipped with biometric access controls which allow only authorized NGCP personnel to enter, apart from the SCADA workstations and servers that were secured by firewalls and layers of authentication systems to block unauthorized access.

System operation is the heart of NGCP, where all demands and supply of power generated from generators and distributors are received and are matched in split seconds, the company said.

Almeda recommended a visit by legislators and an independent party to NGCP facilities to see how the power grid is managed and operated to fallay fears of China’s alleged interference in the Philippine power grid.

“We are happy to welcome our senators and congressmen as well as an independent third party to visit our facilities in order to dispel any security concerns that had been raised these past few days,” the NGCP executive said.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi inspected the NGCP facilities in August 2017. Some congressmen also paid a visit of the same facilities under the previous administration. They included Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Aug. 18, 2016 and Representatives Baby Arenas and Danilo Suarez on March 21, 2017.

Almeda said the company had not entered into other businesses, other than those permitted under the concession agreement.

Telecommunication companies like Globe and Smart use NGCP facilities via co-location agreements. A co-location agreement with NGCP allows a third-party to piggy-back with its right-of-way or existing facilities except tapping into or using the transmission service provider’s fiber optic cables.

The co-location agreements, including those inherited from state-run National Transmission Corp., allow these companies to perform only antenna and joint pole attachment and installation of equipment.

“NGCP declares all earnings from related businesses and uses the same to lower transmission rates in full compliance with the provisions of EPIRA and Concession Agreement,” he said.

More than 5,000 Filipinos are currently employed to man NGCP facilities all over the country to ensure the continued and efficient management of the Philippine power grid.