NGCP goes to court to have sabotaged electricity transmission tower repaired

by Lenie Lectura – February 12, 2016

from Business Mirror

THE National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) is seeking legal remedy to be able to repair a bombed transmission tower in Mindanao.

On Friday the grid operator said it filed a civil case requesting for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order (TRO) or both against the Sambitory family, the claimants who refused the grid operator entry to their property to repair Tower 25 of the Agus 2-Kibawe 138-kiloVolt (kV) line.

Tower 25 was bombed on December 24, 2015, rendering the Agus 2-Kibawe 138-kV line nonoperational. Since then, two hydropower plants—Agus 1 and Agus 2—both connected to the grid through the said transmission line, have been isolated, further straining the power-supply situation in Mindanao.

In a complaint filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Marawi City, NGCP asked for the issuance of writ of preliminary injunction and/or TRO to “compel the defendants [the Sambitory family] to cease from committing acts that prevent plaintiff NGCP from entering the property.”

The grid operator said it cannot perform its mandate to maintain, rehabilitate, repair and refurbish the damaged transmission facilities if the family continues to refuse them access to the damaged tower, stating that this “will result in the shortage of power supply on the island of Mindanao and the disruption of public service due to massive blackouts and power interruptions.”

NGCP has been in talks with the family, together with Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong, National Power Corp. and National Transmission Corp. (TransCo), to grant the former access to the tower site for the repair of the bombed structure.

The family seeks the payment of P40 million, which is to be settled by TransCo, the government entity which owns the transmission assets.

“We are hoping for the fast resolution of the RTC on this matter, so we can start repairing Tower 25. We also hope that the Sambitorys and TransCo will reach a settlement soon. NGCP is ready to repair as soon as access is granted,” the company said in a statement.

NGCP stressed that the bombings and right-of-way (ROW) violations only serve to increase the burden of the public, which must suffer through service interruption. The company also warned that these problems may cause power-supply deficiency during the 2016 elections.

“We appeal to local community leaders to help us monitor the safety of the towers and to negotiate with landowners.”

NGCP is a privately owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining and developing the country’s power grid. It transmits high-voltage electricity through “power superhighways” that include the interconnected system of transmission lines, towers, substations and related assets.

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 State Grid Corp. of China, as technical partner.

An interagency task force was earlier created to address the growing concern on the transmission-tower bombings and ROW issues in Mindanao.

The Department of Energy (DOE) heads the task force, and is directed to report to President Aquino on its progress on a weekly basis.

Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada emphasized that transmission and distribution facilities are critical infrastructures in delivering electricity to the end-users.

“We have to work all together, both the Mindanaoans and industry participants, as there can be no development without power or stable power fuels development,” she said.

Monsada added that the government is seeking all legal recourse following the persistent concerns compromising the country’s power facilities.

In this regard, the legal subtask group will explore and exhaust all legal remedies available to ensure that any actions taken by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Security of Energy Facilities are within the bounds of the law.