Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project still on track, NGCP assures

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 August) – The development of the P52-billion Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP) is still on track only two years short before the 2020 target completion date of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to bring the entire country under one power grid.

NGCP communications and public affairs officer Michael Ligalig said in an interview most of the works are in the acquisition of the road right of way (RROW) for the construction of the structures that will connect Zamboanga del Norte to a converter station in Cebu via a 180-kilometer underwater cable.

He said among the RROW issues that they usually encounter are the landowners’ demand for prices higher than the valuations of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and City Assessor’s Office and properties with no land titles or with two or more claimants.

He added they have filed expropriation cases in courts against landowners to prevent delaying the MVIP but said it would be expedited since it has been identified by the Department of Energy as an energy project of national significance.

He said the NGCP eyes to complete the RROW acquisition by end of 2018 and can proceed with the construction of infrastructures and laying of cables next year.

“The biggest part of the MVIP is the right of way access and acquisition, which we expect to secure by the end of December 2018… We are reaching out to the public, especially all national and local government units, to collaborate with us for the successful completion of the MVIP to meet our goal of One Grid 2020,” he said.

Under a unified national grid, Ligalig said power transmission services in the country will be more reliable, with less power interruption nationwide due to the sharing of local energy resources.

“Reliable electricity transmission, in turn, could help boost investments, infrastructure development, and commerce in the country,” he said.

He said the NGCP had to move the project from the proposed Leyte-Surigao to the “safer and more feasible” Zamboanga del Norte-Cebu line.

The former proposal was much closer at 25 kilometers but it was not viable due to the strong and unstable current, sea depth and World War II bombs discovered on the ocean floor.

MVIP would allow Mindanao to participate in the Wholesale Electricity Power Market (WESM).

The WESM-Mindanao’s predecessor, the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market dubbed the “baby WESM”, was implemented under the Aquino administration in 2013 but was suspended in February 2014 due to a “system collapse” and the need to “resolve operational and commercial issues and concerns.”

Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said Mindanao grid needs the WESM Mindanao where the distribution utilities and electric cooperatives and power generators can participate in the market in accordance to the power need.

He said this is a much faster way to trade power because there is a bidding every five minutes that allows for the buying and selling of electricity, which prioritizes the cheapest energy mix of renewable and non-renewable sources.

He said WESM is more efficient than forging bilateral contracts between the power generators and distribution utilities because those who cannot be served with power based on the contracted capacity will have easy access to the market to immediately fill the power gap. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)

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