Government, power-industry stakeholders meet to resolve Mindanao transmission woes

by Lenie Lectura – February 3, 2016

from Business Mirror

Power-industry stakeholders are set to meet on Thursday in Davao City to tackle the transmission-line constraints and right-of-way (ROW) violations in Mindanao.

“Through the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee (MPMC), we will convene the top officials of the power industry’s key players in a bid to resolve these problems and mitigate the possible impacts to the grid,” said Luwalhati Antonino, chairman of Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and cochairman of the MPMC.

Created in July 2012 through Executive Order 81, the MPMC is tasked to coordinate the efforts of national and local governments, as well as the power-industry stakeholders, to improve the power situation in Mindanao.

The Department of Energy and MinDA cochairman the committee composed of the Energy Regulatory Commission, the National Electrification Administration, the National Power Corp., the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management, the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives, the National Transmission Corp., the Mindanao Electric Power Alliance and the NGCP.

Antonino said Mindanao is currently enjoying a steady supply of power for the first time in about 10 years, but the persistent issues affecting the transmission towers in Mindanao could hamper this positive supply outlook.

“We must immediately address issues on ROW and easements to further prevent unwarranted power disruptions and ensure the steady supply of power in the grid,” Antonino said.

In January the NGCP reported that 18 towers experienced security attacks, with the latest incidents involving towers No. 19, 20, 21, 13, 25 and 50 of the Agus 2-Kibawe 138-kV transmission lines.

Transmission Tower No. 4 of the Baloi-Agus 2 138 kV transmission lines and Transmission Tower No. 63 of the Kabacan-Sultan Kudarat 138-kV transmission lines also experienced security attacks.

“The recent attacks on Towers No. 20 and 25 created a dent in the power supply of Mindanao, which isolated the Agus 1 and 2 hydropower plants that produce about 260 megawatts (MW),” Antonino said.

To date, the two towers have not yet been repaired due to issues of land ownership. The isolation of the hydropower plants has also caused rotational power interruption in different franchise areas in Mindanao. In addition to the attacks, issues on the ROWs and the hesitance of the land owners to cooperate are seen to further aggravate the problem.

Currently, five lines are out of operation due to the unwillingness of landowners to cooperate and the growing vegetation under the lines. These include the Baloi-Agus 2 138 kV lines 1 and 2; the Baloi-Agus 6 69 kV line; and the Kibawe-Agus 2 138 kV lines 1 and 2.

“The hesitance of the landowners to cooperate in solving the problem is also becoming a serious drawback, as NGCP’s personnel cannot enter the area of the damaged towers or lines,” Antonino said.

Aside from updates on the repair of the transmission lines and towers, the principals’ meeting will also discuss mitigation measures, ways forward, immediate solutions and other initiatives.

“This meeting is crucial, as it will allow us to craft plans and initiatives that will mitigate and prevent similar transmission-related problems in the future,” she added.

The energy officials will also discuss other issues revolving around the power sector of Mindanao, like the contraction of distribution utilities, updates on incoming power projects, the impacts of El Niño to the grid, and the rehabilitation of the Agus and Pulangi hydropower plants, among others.