To mark the successful full energization of the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection, NGCP conducted a simultaneous ceremonial switch-on in Manila, Cebu, and Lanao del Norte, symbolizing the unification of the Philippine grid and marking the full commercial operations of the interconnection.
On 26 January 2024, the energization ceremony was held at Malacañan Palace, led by His Excellency President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., NGCP’s Dumanjug Converter Station in Cebu, and Lala Converter Station in Lanao del Norte, and witnessed by key national and local government officials.
“NGCP is honored to operationalize this landmark energy project conceptualized during then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr.’s visionary leadership, now fully realized under the leadership and guidance of the administration of his son and namesake, Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. This event marks the successful energization at full capacity of this monumental undertaking, a vision of unifying the grid proudly coming to fruition under NGCP,” the company said.
The interconnection was conceptualized as early as the 1980s but was abandoned by the government due to challenges in implementation.
It was only in 2011, with NGCP as private transmission concessionaire, that studies were revived for the feasibility of such undertaking.
Surveys on the original eastern route envisioned by government presented technical challenges and geophysical hazards, including underwater volcanic activity, unexploded ordnances from the Battle of Surigao, and strong seabed current. NGCP then turned west.
A route study beginning in Northwestern Mindanao, crossing over to load center Cebu province, was completed in 2015, with results showing no threat of volcanic activity, and lesser seismic hazards and regional fault compared to the eastern route.
In April 2017, NGCP filed its application with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to commence the implementation of the MVIP. The project was approved in July 2017 with a total cost of PhP 51.3 Billion.
“The MVIP, which unites the Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao grids, is identified as integral to economic development through the delivery of stable power transmission services and enabling of energy resource sharing. Despite various challenges, NGCP remained committed to the completion of this project which is a testament to our dedication and commitment to fulfilling our mandate of improving, upgrading, expanding, and reinforcing the Philippine power grid,” added NGCP.
The MVIP is comprised of a 184 circuit-kilometer (ckm) High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) submarine transmission line connecting the power grids of Mindanao and Visayas with a transfer capacity of 450MW expandable to as much as 900MW.
The project also includes converter stations in both regions and more than 500ckm of overhead lines to facilitate the flow of electricity.
While certified as an Energy Project of National Significance (EPNS), the project still encountered various difficulties particularly on right-of-way due to opposition of landowners and long and tedious judicial processes, protracted permitting process by local government units, security issues in certain areas in Mindanao, various requests for rerouting, submarine cable damage by an external party, and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
In September 2023, the Cebu-Magdugo 230kV line, which is crucial to fully utilize the 450MW transfer of power on the Visayas side, was also the subject of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court.
NGCP commends the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the proactive support extended in coordinating with LGUs affected by several critical transmission projects.
“With the DILG’s assistance, NGCP was able to secure 26 building permits from affected LGUs traversed by MVIP. We are grateful for the assistance of Sec. Benhur Abalos who extended every accommodation and went as far as appointing Asst. Sec. Odie Pasaraba who has been invaluable in our coordination with the LGUs,” stated the company.
An initial load of 22.5 MegaWatts (MW) was carried by the high voltage submarine and overhead lines from Mindanao to Visayas during its energization on 30 April 2023 and was gradually ramped up to full capacity.
Parts of the MVIP were already completed in 2022, such as the Lala-Aurora 138kV Transmission Line, the 350kV Submarine Cable, and Cable Terminal Stations in Santander, Cebu, and Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte.