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NGCP urges govt to address Zamboanga Peninsula's power sufficiency woes

Source: 
Business Mirror

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) is urging the government to implement long-term solutions to address power glitches that regularly occur in the Zamboanga Peninsula, particularly within the franchise area of the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative Inc. (Zamcelco).

The grid operator said it has implemented remedial measures to address the problem but stressed that government needs to intervene to ensure power quality and reliability in the area.

From January to May this year, NGCP has recorded an increase in the number of undervoltage and voltage fluctuations from both the power generation and distribution side, adversely affecting power stability in the area.

To address this, the NGCP has put in place short-term measures such as placement of capacitor banks installed in 2018 at NGCP's Pitogo Substation. Currently, four 7.5 mega volt ampere reactive capacitor banks at the said substation that caters to Zamcelco and power supplier Western Mindanao Power Corp. (WMPC).

NGCP has also certified WMPC as an Ancillary Services (AS) provider for dispatchable reserve and reactive power support.

NGCP also conducted a transposition activity for the Aurora-Nagamin and Nagamin-Zamboanga 138 kiloVolt lines to help mitigate unbalanced voltage in the area. This activity, it said, temporarily addressed the distribution side imbalances that contribute to the issue.

The energization of the Kauswagan-Lala-Aurora line, the Lala-Naga (Min-Zamboanga line), and the completion of the Min-Visayas Interconnection project. Barring unforeseen circumstances, these initiatives are also expected to further improve voltage reliability in the area.

However, NGCP said, these are only mere stop-gap measures to the larger issues, such as the lack of power generation plants that would provide voltage support and address increasing demand in the area, as well as the lack of unimpeded access to the right-of-way (ROW) of older lines for maintenance, specifically the 350-kilometer Aurora-Naga Min-Zamboanga line.

The transmission line, which serves Zamcelco and other customers in the Zamboanga Peninsula and is one of the longest radial lines in Mindanao built before NGCP took over power transmission operations. Its weak configuration is also a factor in the power quality issues.

'NGCP has exhausted all short and mid-term remedial measures to help solve the power quality issues faced by the customers of Zamcelco and WMPC. These are, however, only short term, temporary measures implemented to immediately address bigger concerns,' NGCP said.

'We appeal to the government authorities in charge of long-term planning to adopt a more holistic approach to power development so that the needs of the grid as a whole will be better coordinated, and power plant locations will be more strategic,' it said.

NGCP also appealed to concerned government agencies to address the unresolved and unpaid ROW over old lines built by the National Power Corp. and National Transmission Corp. (Transco). 'Unimpeded access to the line's right-of-way corridor is imperative for NGCP to continue with proper maintenance of the transmission lines under its care,' it said.

NGCP's limited ability to access the old and long lines in the area contributes to line tripping that cause power interruptions, it said.

'NGCP has done what it can to address the ROW concerns such as the conduct of regular vegetation trimming activities and public information campaigns but it can only do so much. Under its concession agreement, the obligation to settle these issues remain with Transco,' NGCP said.

The company is also seeking the public's support to report any hazardous activity within the transmission line corridor, including kite flying, high-growing vegetation, and construction activities, among others, which may trigger unscheduled power interruptions.

'There exists a multilateral problem which needs a multilateral, long-term solution and thorough implementation from our governing agencies,' NGCP added.

Under the Epira, NGCP is limited to the operations and maintenance of power transmission facilities. Its tasks include ensuring the readiness of transmission facilities to deliver any and all available power to where it is needed. It cannot intervene in generation, or distribution issues, nor is it responsible for ROW concerns over lines built prior to its takeover of transmission operations on January 15, 2009.

NGCP is a Filipino-led, privately owned company in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country's power grid, led by majority shareholders and Vice Chairman of the Board Henry Sy Jr. and Co-Vice Chairman Robert Coyiuto Jr.

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