Sunday, July 07, 2013

Editorial

NGCP To Modernize Electricity Generation/Distribution

by ERNESTO T. SOLIDUM

Power transmission lines in Cebu, Negros and Panay in the Visayas will be upgraded to meet the Department of Energy’s Power Development Program. Power player led by National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) will implement modernization program like installing High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) of 230 kilovolts to its clienteles mainly Provincial Electric Cooperatives. This is the gist of the presscon held by NGCP and Akelco officials at Sampaguita Gardens, New Washington, Aklan on June 27, 2013.

Atty. Cynthia Alabanza, Spokesperson and Head of Corporate Communications Dept., NGCP said: “in compliance with Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), privatization of transmission service providers be fully implemented. NGCP fortunately bidded and won as a franchise holder of Napocor assets particularly Transco. NGCP has a lease contract with the government over its multibillion assets.”

“We have an installed capacity of 16,378 megawatts (MW), 20,000 kms. of transmission lines and maintain 181 substations in all 81 provinces of the country. The Visayas grid is one of the six major transmission backbones and interconnections that will be enhanced considering high power demand of commercial, residential and industrial establishments. The Department of Energy data show a 4.3 percent annual growth in power requirements and we are prepared to address them in a year or so”, Alabanza stressed.

Mr. Guillermo Redoblado, Senior Technical Adviser to the Pres. NGCP cited the company’s roles which are: a) power delivery, b) systems operation (participating power generation plants) and c) metering services at its substations. (In Aklan, this is located at their 5.0 ha. facility at Solido, Nabas). Mission statement of Henry T. Sy, Jr. – Pres. and CEO has an avowed goal to be the best transmission service provider in Southeast Asia.

Aklan’s consumptive demand of 15 MW is supplied from geothermal power plant located in Palimpinon, Leyte and transmitted via submarine cables. Considering the hundreds of kilometers from the source, anything can happen at some points of the system. 

Akelco General Manager Chito Peralta said, the June 18 massive blackout in Negros and Panay was due to the tripping of its lines in Kabankalan, Negros Occ. 

Aklan’s system peak hours, according to Engr. Joel Martinez, Head, Engineering Dept., is 7-8 in the evening where power demand registers 24 MW. This requires contingency services of our diesel power plants to operate. Any imbalance in supply and demand will result to power interruption. 

Atty. Alabanza announced their priority is the replacement of obsolescent wooden poles with aluminum steel alloy which are more durable and fire resistant. NGCP will resume the construction of phylon structures, lay power line cables and acquire right of way or easement with landowners. 

Easement of electric poles as a result of national highway expansion from 2 to 4 lanes shall no longer be borne by Akelco or its more than one million subscribers. Akelco Manager Peralta based this on recent signing by Pres. P-noy of RA 10531 where DPWH will shoulder operational expenses. The cost of relocation will amount to P9 million from Kalibo International Airport to Numancia or 7 kms. The highway expansion program will eventually cover Altavas to Caticlan, Malay. Of the 327 barangays in Aklan 91 percent are energized according to Peralta. 

In spite and despite of the NGCP assurance of full delivery of power to its customers in Aklan through Akelco, this reality is far. It is not time bounded. The difference between 15 and 24 MW is a chasm and could not be responded adequately to by aging diesel power plants in Aklan. There is a need for a new power plant for Aklan that cost much cheaper like hydro power to operate.

In comparison, the Philippines has not attracted investors compared to other countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia because of the high cost of electricity. The Philippines has the second highest rate after Singapore which charges 12 cents/kwh for commercial while Singapore charges 14 cents/kwh. 

The Philippines can significantly reduce power cost with the use of indigenous sources like coal (35 percent of electricity generation), natural gas (29 percent (and hydro (12 percent). She has high quality coal deposits in Semirara Island and in Zamboanga peninsula. Coal fired power plants in Mindanao use fluidized bed technology with efficient combustion process to control air pollutants without the need of external emission control, DOE Asst. Secretary Ramon U. Oca pointed out.

Aklanon customers expect the NGCP delivers power to Akelco in a consistent, efficient, and reliable manner. Likewise, Akelco will deliver electricity to its customer consistently, efficiently, and reliably. Electricity is foremost in God’s mind before creating the world when He uttered, “Let there be light and there was light”. Here, in this instance electrical engineers scrambled to lay poles, cables, light bulbs and put up power plants. Engineers claim engineering as an occupation is the oldest in the world. /MP        

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