By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
The Iloilo Grain Complex Corp. (IGCC) has offered a “more economically viable” option for the completion of the P3-billion Panay-Guimaras 138-kilovolt (kV) interconnection project of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).
“IGCC believes that our company’s proposed route for the project is not only technically feasible, but is also more economically viable following a direct route than the proposed NGCP route which follows a less direct, longer route,” IGCC spokesman Toby Tañada said in a statement.
In the proposed route, IGCC emphasized that NGCP’s existing 69-kV line “can share posts, structures, and right-of-way (ROW) since it can be underbuilt under the proposed 138-kV transmission line.”
Tañada noted that the underbuilt transmission system is a practical option considering the constraints or limitations in the ROW.
He further emphasized that this would result in reduced costs due to fewer ROW acquisition requirements and the sharing of posts or structures between two transmission or distribution lines.
Some underbuilt lines in the country include La Trinidad-Loakan 69-kV line in Benguet, the Bacolod-San Enrique and Bacolod-Alijis 69-kV transmission line in Negros, and NGCP’s Ormoc-Maasin 138-kV transmission line and 69-kV in Leyte.
The IGCC had previously proposed rerouting the transmission line through a residential area that directly traverses five households, in contrast to NGCP’s open area along the current route.
However, NGCP declined IGCC’s proposal, stating that a deviation from the established route may impact adjacent towers and cause further project delays.
“When we plot the route of our transmission line projects, a major consideration is the existence of structures and residents. We aim to traverse areas that will cause the least destruction to property, and result in the least number of persons displaced,” it explained.
The interconnection project is targeted for completion by December 2024.
The IGCC argued that NGCP itself caused delays in the interconnection project.
“Records will show that from the start, it was NGCP that caused the delay of its own project as it did not secure the required Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) permit; failed to make a genuine just compensation offer to IGCC; and refused to consider cheaper and more practical ROW alternatives,” Tañada said.
The recently released TRO by the SC prevented NGCP from executing the Writ of Possession (WOP) and related orders issued by the Iloilo Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 33.
It can be recalled that NGCP filed an expropriation case to acquire the IGCC property on September 30, 2022, which then led to the lower court’s issuance of a WOP on December 12, 2022.
Following this, the IGCC then submitted a Motion for Reconsideration with the lower court on January 18, 2023.
The motion was denied but the IGCC raised the RTC’s decision before the high court, arguing that NGCP failed to prove ERC clearance for the project.
The high court ruled in a 20-page decision that the lower court committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the WOP without determining the necessity of taking IGCC property for public use.
This then resulted in the issuance of the TRO, which also permanently prohibited the grid operator from implementing its WOP.
The NGCP’s Panay-Guimaras project consists of a 1.7-kilometer transmission line connecting the proposed Iloilo substation to the Ingore Cable Terminal Station. The station serves as the connection point of the submarine cable to Guimaras Island.
The two tower sites for the interconnection project fall under IGCC’s property. These two tower sites are crucial to the interconnection project as these will connect the proposed Iloilo Substation to the Ingore Cable.