DOE Calls NGCP Implementation of TDP

The Department of Energy (DOE) strongly reminds the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to implement the Transmission Development Plan (TDP), which outlines essential expansion and modernization projects for the transmission system to ensure the reliable and efficient delivery of electricity throughout the country.

“The whole-of-industry approach, including better energy resource planning that the NGCP was harping about in its media pronouncements, is, in fact, the TDP, and therefore, the NGCP as the transmission concessionaire has the responsibility to implement the TDP, which was developed in consultation with all industry stakeholders, both private and public,” Assistant Secretary Mario Marasigan said.

The TDP also complements the projected load growth and generation expansion, including the capacity additions from renewable energy (RE) in line with the target of minimum 50% RE generation mix by 2040 and beyond.

With the widespread power disturbance that happened in Western Visayas on 02 January 2024, it could have been prevented had the NGCP completed on time the 230 kV Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) Backbone project, a major part of the TDP.

Based on the 2016 TDP, the NGCP was supposed to have completed the CNP 230 kV Backbone Project in 2020, but the completion date has been delayed at least seven times from the original completion date of December 2020. As of October 2023, the said project is 99.64 percent completed, but the estimated completion time is yet to be assessed based on the Transmission Project Status Report October 2023 update. 

To recall, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) issued a show-cause order against the NGCP in July 2023 over delays in 37 transmission projects. The ERC said that the NGCP failed to meet its proposed timelines to complete the projects.

“In fact, the NGCP has already filed several applications for the approval of its capex applications to expand and improve the transmission facilities, some of which have already been by the ERC, yet remain delayed,” Assistant Secretary Marasigan stressed.

Some of the long-delayed transmission projects in the Visayas region include the Stages 2&3 of the CNP 230 kV Backbone Project, Cebu-Lapu Lapu Transmission Project, Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project, Naga (Cebu) Sub-station Upgrading Project, Tagbiliran 69 kV Substation Project, Visayas Voltage Improvement Project.

In addition to the TDP, the DOE also mandates the preparation and implementation of the Grid Operating and Maintenance Program (GOMP) by the NGCP to ensure that the maintenance activities of power plants shall not affect supply security and reliability. The GOMP reflects the NGCP’s recommended maintenance scheduling of generation and transmission facilities where grid security and supply reliability are premised.

To complement the TDP, the DOE also promulgated policies on the full availability of Ancillary Services (AS) through the NGCP’s conduct of Competitive Selection Process (CSP) and the full commercial operation of the Reserve Market. Complete AS requirements were mandated to support RE expansion and manage variability, cited by the NGCP as among the reasons for the Panay grid collapse. Aside from the full availability of AS, the NGCP also needs to ensure that the protective systems are in place to arrest grid disturbance, such as what happened in Panay.

Similarly, the rules and responsibilities of the NGCP as System Operator (SO) are clearly laid out in the Philippine Grid Code. The various rules and regulations promulgated by the DOE and ERC provide authority to the NGCP to undertake critical real-time steps when the grid is in danger, such as dispatching of plants or directing the distribution utilities (DUs) to manage their loads to prevent widespread blackouts or system collapse.

“In the sequence of events that were presented during the various meetings on the Panay incident, the NGCP failed to show clear indication that it had prudently exercised its authority to balance supply and demand in the Panay Grid, specifically at the onset of the tripping of PEDC Unit 1 which have contributed to the voltage problem in the area,” Assistant Secretary Marasigan said.

While the NGCP claimed that multiple outages of power plants caused the blackout, the tripping of PEDC 1 already signalled the need for NGCP to take action, which they failed to do, given the fragile nature of Panay,” Assistant Secretary Marasigan added.

The DOE will continue to monitor the compliance of NGCP with the various directives relative to the immediate and hopefully permanent resolution of the Panay power supply issue. ###