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DOE wants NGCP’s system operator function stripped

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Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Raphael Lotilla yesterday reiterated the agency’s support to revisit the franchise of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), following the three-day power outage in Western Visayas that started on January 2.

In a press conference in Taguig City, Lotilla said the DOE will recommend to the Congress the separation and transfer of systems operation function from the NGCP so that the company can focus on delivering its transmission network projects.

The DOE is blaming the NGCP for the power outage in the Panay grid as the system operator was not able to immediately act on the power disturbance due to the trip offs of the Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC) Units 1 and 2 as well as the Palm Concepcion Power Corp. (PCPC) Unit 1, which also affected the delivery of power supply of other generation facilities in Visayas to the grid.

“The Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) has pointed out that there was a two-hour window when the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines could have proactively called on the distribution utilities and electric cooperatives in Panay to reduce their load in order to prevent a subsystem-wide collapse,” Lotilla said.

The DOE chief added that the island-wide blackout was preventable.

DOE Assistant Secretary Mario Marisagan said that as of 11:33 a.m. Friday, the PCPC unit has stabilized and the manual load dropping will no longer be needed.

This means the grid has started to resume power services down to household and commercial consumers in Western Visayas.

Marisagan said full power restoration on the island is possible within the day.

Moreover, aside from segregating the system operation function from NGCP, the DOE is also recommending to Congress to allow the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to impose administrative penalties on the transmission concessionaire.

The proposed fee is at P2 million per day of violation or non-compliance with regulatory rules or 1 percent of the cost of the delayed project based on the ERC-approved project cost, whichever is higher.

It is also proposing to review the tax privilege of the NGCP of paying only 3 percent of franchise tax in lieu of all other national and local taxes.

“We will exert all efforts to exact full accountability for any failures in the delivery of the services expected from NGCP as the transmission concessionaire and the country’s biggest monopoly,” Lotilla said.*PNA

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