NGCP rolling out 4 projects in Mindanao

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/17 March)—The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines is rolling out at least four major expansion projects in Mindanao in anticipation of the projected growth load in the island, with the funding reaching nearly P55 billion including those projects in Luzon and the Visayas, company officials said.

Henry T. Sy, Jr., NGCP president and chief executive officer, said the company has partnered with the State Grid Corp. of China, reportedly the world’s largest transmission utility, to carry out the projects across the country over a five-year period.

“The provision of better transmission services through a more reliable power grid is the top priority of NGCP,” he said from a company report furnished on Wednesday.

According to the NGCP’s 2010 Transmission Development Plan (TDP), the supply of electric power, particularly in Mindanao, will remain critical from 2010 to 2012 as the existing dependable capacity in its grid would just be enough to meet the required capacity for this three-year period.

The NGCP findings, which were based on official government data and surveys done by the transmission firm, also showed that additional generation capacity in Mindanao will not go on stream until 2013.

The NGCP TDP noted that in Mindanao, the projected growth in power load, technically known as the annual average compounded growth rate, is 4.28% over the 2010-2019 period.

Sy said that Mindanao needs to explore other sources of energy, instead of being heavily dependent on hydropower, which is prone to erratic weather patterns, particularly in this era of climate change.

Cynthia Alabanza, NGCP spokesperson, said that to meet the growth in demand, new power plants with a capacity of 1,144 megawatts should be built in the island starting next year until 2019.

Of the projected 1,144 MW of additional generation capacity for Mindanao, she said that “904 MW will still come from hydro sources, while geothermal power will account for 140 MW and coal, another 100 MW.”

NGCP, the private operator of the country’s power transmission network, is implementing four expansion projects over the 2011-2014 period to accommodate the projected growth load in the island, Alabanza said.

These include providing new transmission corridors and upgrading existing substations in the Aurora-Polanco transmission line, Balo-i-Villanueva line, the Sangali-Zamboanga line and two expansion projects for the Mindanao substation to be carried out this year and in 2014.

Six additional projects to be implemented from 2013 to 2015 are also slated for Mindanao to ensure the delivery of reliable and quality power to the island, according to the NGCP’s transmission blueprint.

Alabanza explained that the current facilities are more than sufficient to accommodate the current load and that the expansion projects are designed to meet projected future demand growth.

Last year, parts of Mindanao experienced as much as 12 hours of rotating brownouts triggered by the El Nino phenomenon that caused water bodies serving hydropower plants to drop to critical level.

More than half of Mindanao’s electricity is generated by hydropower plants.

Alabanza pointed out that “unless new power plants come in, the grid will continue to experience power shortages especially during drought season.”

She clarified, however, that the job of generating additional capacity for Mindanao and the rest of the country is not the NGCP’s task.

“The NGCP’s responsibility is to maintain, operate, expand and further develop the national transmission highway to ensure that it is more than capable in handling increasing power loads as a result of the rising electricity demand,” she said. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)