NGCP ‘ready’ to face grid operation critics

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THE National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said on Wednesday it has been compliant with its mandate to ensure that the country’s transmission assets are in optimal condition to convey safe, quality, and reliable electricity.

The grid operator has once again caught the ire of the lawmakers who called for the revocation of its franchise if proven that NGCP is ineffective of its mandate.

“NGCP is fully cognizant that its franchise is a privilege granted to it by government. We remain ready to answer any and all questions raised concerning how we do business,” the grid operator said late Wednesday when sought for comment.

“We are confident that the improvements we have introduced and the P300 billion we have invested to strengthening the transmission system will be recognized,” it added.

Reports had it that the government may take back control of NGCP after Senator Raffy Tulfo, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to express his intent to probe NGCP.

“We have faith in the legal process and we will continue to comply with all lawful directives, and pursue our mandate faithfully,” added NGCP.

Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said his office awaits the results of an audit being conducted by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). On Wednesday, Sen. Grace Poe, at a hearing by the Senate Energy panel on long, frequent outages in Panay island and Occidental Mindoro, wondered aloud why the ERC audit of NGCP, begun in 2019, is taking too long.

“We still have to see the reports that have been accepted so far by ERC. The audit findings would not necessarily translate into cents and pesos but then, what is important is the findings about what needs to improve in the transmission system that we should be able to address,” said Lotilla.

NGCP is SGP’s sole operating asset. It holds the sole and exclusive concession and franchise for operating the Philippines’ transmission network, linking power generators and distribution utilities to deliver electricity to power distributors and cooperatives nationwide.

In the next 13 years, the grid operator is committed to invest approximately P440 billion across 211 projects which are aimed to support the growing electricity demand in the country and to make the country’s power backbone continuously reliable.

Besides the complaints over outages and the possible role of NGCP’s supposed lapses in some of these, critics of the transmission company have also focused on the national security risk that its ownership structure could pose to the country.

NGCP is 60-percent owned by Filipinos and 40 percent by the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), sparking apprehension that through its state-owned firm, Beijing could hit back at the Philippines whenever their geopolitical conflicts over the West Philippine Sea take a turn for the worse.