NGCP blames red tape, right-of-way issues for woes

By Meg J. Adonis@MegINQ

July 8, 2023 12:00:00

The country's lone grid operator insisted it had "successfully managed the transmission grid" despite being called out by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for 37 delayed projects, with some still not completed over 2,000 days beyond their expected energization dates.

Cynthia Alabanza, spokesperson for the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), in a statement cited late regulatory approvals as among the main causes of the delays, along with right-of-way and protracted permitting procedure issues.

This comes after the ERC issued a show cause order directing the company to explain why most of its transmission projects remained unfinished, warning that NGCP may pay penalties for violating Republic Act No. 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.

According to the regulator, 26 of the 37 delayed projects were not yet completed, while three were yet to commence. Delays in the projects averaged 820 days, ranging from 21 to 2,561 days, the ERC said.

It added that the transmission grid had only expanded by 8 percent since NGCP took control of the national grid in 2009, with a 1.05-percent progress rate annually, based on the company's Transmission Development Plan (TDP) submitted to the Department of Energy.

The TDP spanning 2022 to 2040 outlines NGCP's plans to expand and improve the national grid, including the development of new transmission projects.

The ERC pointed out that the country's transmission lines increased by only 1,602 circuit-kilometers (ckm) to 21,027 ckm in 2022 from 19,425 ckm in 2019.

The NGCP argued, however, that it was prioritizing "operationally critical projects that have a real impact on power system dynamics, which may be managed in many ways while projects are being pursued."

In April, the company energized the P52-billion Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP), which finally connected Mindanao to the Visayas transmission network, allowing power sharing across the country's three island groups.

But MVIP was originally scheduled for completion in 2020. Restrictions triggered by the pandemic forced NGCP to push back the start of its operations to this year.

The long-delayed Hermosa-San Jose 500-kilovolt transmission line in Bataan province was also energized on May 27. Its original completion date was set on Aug. 23, 2021.

The NGCP said it would continue to pursue all its projects and "looks forward to government's continued support as it does so." INQ