NGCP’s Panay-Guimaras interconnection project hits snag as SC issues another TRO

National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGCP) Panay-Guimaras 138-kiloVolt (kV) Interconnection Project hits a snag after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing it from carrying out one of the components crucial to its completion.

On 12 April 2023, the High Court granted Iloilo Grain Complex Corporation’s (IGCC) Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with Very Urgent Application for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction.

The TRO prevented NGCP from executing the Writ of Possession (WOP) and all other related orders issued by the Iloilo Regional Trial Court Branch 33 dated 12 December 2022.

Two (2) tower sites fall under the property of IGCC and is considered crucial as this 1.7-kilometer transmission line will connect the proposed Iloilo Substation to the Ingore Cable Terminal Station which will serve as the connection point of the submarine cable to Guimaras Island.

“The Supreme Court’s decision is disheartening as it hinders us from fulfilling our commitment to the residents of the islands of Panay and Guimaras, including fast-developing Iloilo City. Nevertheless, we steadfastly maintain our dedication to enhancing power transmission within the area despite this setback,” the NGCP said.

Considered one of NGCP’s priority projects, the Panay-Guimaras 138kV Interconnection  is expected to improve power transmission in the area. It will address the increasing demand for power in Iloilo City, and provide greater transfer capacity to and from Guimaras Island, where renewable energy projects are being developed.

On 30 September 2022, NGCP filed an expropriation case to acquire the IGCC property, which was granted by Iloilo RTC Branch 33 on 3 November 2022. A WOP was later issued on 12 December 2022.

The IGCC submitted a Motion for Reconsideration on 18 January 2023, which was denied by the RTC. The IGCC then raised the RTC decision before the Supreme Court which then issued the TRO.

In its defense, the transmission company said it fully complied with the requisites for WOP issuance. NGCP continues to reach out to IGCC for an expeditious and amicable settlement.

The company, however, hesitates to move forward with the IGCC’s proposal which involves a re-route through a residential area directly traversing five (5) households, as opposed to the open area traversed by the project’s current route covered by the writs of possession.

Any deviation in the established route may also affect adjacent towers and cause further delay to the completion of the project.

“We are hopeful for the urgent resolution of the issue so as not to hamper the interconnection which will improve the region’s power transmission backbone,” the company explained. “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 least destruction to property, and result in the least number of persons displaced,” the company expounded. “In the interest of the public’s convenience and the continuing growth of Iloilo, we will do what we can to push the immediate completion of this critical project,” said NGCP.