by Danessa O. Rivera – November 29, 2015 – 12:00am
from The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Right-of-way (ROW) issues in Lanao del Sur continue to stall maintenance works on Mindanao’s power grid and hamper optimal power supply in the Mindanao region, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said.
The grid operator said it remains unsuccessful at its attempt to resolve ROW issues that prevent transmission line clearing operations and maintenance despite months of amicable negotiations with a certain Balao Pundag, the landowner who refuses entry to his property.
“We have been coordinating with Mr. Pundag for more than 16 months now to settle the issue so that NGCP may have access to the property and clear the trees posing a threat to our lines. Around 1,500 trees planted along NGCP’s ROW are within his property. These trees continue to threaten our Agus 2 – Kibawe 138kV line,” NGCP said.
Based on the local government of Lanao del Sur’s own schedule of market value, the valuation of the trees was at P77,750 but the landowner was demanding P478,650 as payment for the trees, which is six times NGCP’s valuation.
“The landowner’s demanded payment is exorbitant. We will only pay the fair amount based on standard valuation…We have to stick to a standard valuation of property, which is based on verifiable sources such as the BIR, private assessors, and government financial institutions, when available,” NGCP said.
According to the grid operator, even with the entry of new power plants that will augment power supply in the region, the energy situation will not improve if there are no transmission lines to deliver the new capacity to the distribution utilities and household consumers.
“For our part, we ensure that the facilities necessary to connect these plants to the grid are already in place by the time these power plants are ready to operate. But if our transmission lines become non-operational because some landowners prevent us from properly maintaining our lines, then Mindanao will continue to be plagued by power interruptions,” the NGCP noted.
Due to ROW issues, three transmission lines have been non-operational, putting a strain on the whole system.
NGCP has repeatedly appealed to the government and the Philippine Army for assistance in resolving the escalating security and ROW issues in Mindanao.
“We are hoping that these difficult landowners see past their own private interests and allow NGCP to clear the lines and allow us to deliver all available electricity to those who need it,” the company noted.
NGCP earlier urged Congress to pass a law that will prohibit intentional planting of high-growing trees and building of residential and industrial structures under transmission lines.
This is because ROW issues are not only rampant in parts of Mindanao but in Luzon, particularly in Metro Manila.
Passing a law that will criminalize these acts will prevent power outages and further strain in the power system.
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 composed of Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. led by Henry Sy, Jr., Calaca High Power Corp. of Robert Coyiuto Jr., and the State Grid Corp. of China (SGCC) as technical partner.