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National Grid cleared to carry out P700-million transmission line upgrade


By Donnabelle L. Gatdula Updated February 24, 2009 12:00 AM [ philstar.com ]

MANILA, Philippines - The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the country’s power sector watchdog, has given the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (formely National Transmission Corp.) a go signal to carry out a P700-million transmission line upgrading projects in the Visayas.

These will be among the first projects of NGCP after it assumed operations and maintenance of TransCo last month.

Specifically, ERC allowed NGCP to construct the Sta. Rita - Quinapundan 69 kilovolt transmission project estimated to cost P449.94 million.

NGCP said this project will prevent the overloading of Wright substation, reduce the line loss and improve reliability of power supply in Samar.

The Sta. Rita-Quinapundan project is expected to be completed next year and wil loop with the existing Wright-Taft-Borongan-Quinapundan 69 kV line that supplies power to the eastern part of Samar.

In a 10-page decision, the ERC also allowed NGCP to implement the Sibalom-Culasi kV transmission project worth P260.895 million.

The project aims to loop the existing 69 kV line from Panitan to Culasi Load-end Substation line and the line from the Sta. barbara to Sibalom Load-end Substation “to minimize outages, enhance system reliable and address the low volatage problem in the area.”

The ERC, however, pointed out that these two projects will not be automatically included in the maximum allowable revenue for NGCP for the current regulatory period.

In a related development, TransCo president Arthur Aguilar has expressed apprehension on the inability of electric cooperatives to acquire sub-transmission assets of TransCo.

According to Aguilar, there are really some EC which cannot afford to purchase the STAs within their franchise areas because of lack of financial strength. Notwithstanding, he said the financial assistance and concessions being offered by the government.

“We’re down already to the difficult ones. Some of them are really not financially capable to buy it (STAs),” he said.

He said “we are now up to 20 years payment. In some cases we have even lowered the down payment and the interest rate but these are coops that are really having a hard time.”

The Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) mandates TransCo to dispose of its STAs to qualified distribution utilities which could take over the responsibility of operating, maintaining, upgrading and expanding the said assets.

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