Friday, 6 July 2012

A separate Bicol grid will isolate the region in the event that it bogs down

Linemen from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) install guy wires and other protection structures to prevent Tower No 159 from toppling. Located on the Agno River floodplain in Villasis, Pangasinan, the tower was threatened by strong river current and soil erosion which caused the riverbank to advance directly to the location of the tower. – Photo by PIA-Caraga

LEGAZPI CITY:  Atty Cynthia P  Alabanza, adviser for external affairs and spokesperson of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, defended the one grid policy for Luzon saying that a separate grid for Bicol will isolate the region if a disaster strikes.

She made this statement in reply to a question from a reporter during a Power 101 forum for media practitioners of Albay and Sorsogon held at the Pepperland Hotel here on Wednesday.

 “If you have your own Bicol Grid, if it bogs down because of a disaster you can’t get power from other sources. This is what happened in Mindanao,” Alabanza said.

 “But because the Visayas is interconnected by submarine cable with the Luzon Grid, whenever it is facing power shortage, Luzon is exporting power to the Visayas. Now that Luzon is facing power shortage, it is importing 180 megawatts from the Visayas, through the Tacloban Geothermal Power Plant,” she added.

Alabanza said that NGCP (formerly Transco) is a private company tasked to operate and manage the distribution of electricity through 10,704 kilometers transmission from Northern Luzon down to Mindanao.

It also operates 181 substations all over the country.

“No, we have no control over supply of power. We only see to it that there’s an uninterrupted service and there is a balance between supply and demand,” she explained.

She also pointed out that all the transmission lines and substations still belong to the government.

Furthermore she explained that NGCP does not deal directly with electric consumers but through the distribution utilities or electric coops. “Our customers are large industries and distribution utilities. But our rates are going down, “she said.

Jun Alegre, chairman KBP Albay-Legazpi Chapter, complained that the passage of the Electricity Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) has created many agencies like NGCP, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp., (PSALM), Wholesale Electricity Spot Market  (WESM) and the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) but the price of electricity has not gone down.

 “Whereas, before, Albayanos had to deal only with the Albay Electric Cooperative Inc. (Aleco), National Power Corporation (NPC) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA), but now the price of electricity has gone up and our coop is now delinquent,” Alegre lamented.

Alabanza replied that because NPC was heavily indebted the government resorted to privatization through the enactment of the EPIRA. So power generation was distributed to private investors through the Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

 “However, if Congress wants to amend the EPIRA because it has failed to address the high power rates, it is up to them because they are the legislators,” said Alabanza.
 “Although I am a lawyer, I must admit that I don’t fully understand the depth of the EPIRA law,” she said.

Earlier, Engr. Guillermo Redoblado, retired NPC Vice President  for South Luzon, now an NGCP consultant, explained technical terms used in the power industry. – Bicol Mail

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