‘SMALL BUT ESSENTIAL’: Unfinished substations critical to power supply stability – MORE exec

MORE Power President and CEO Roel Castro

By Francis Allan Angelo and Rjay Castor

The top official of Iloilo City’s sole power distributor urged the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and Department of Energy (DOE) to hasten the construction of a critical component of the Panay-Guimaras grids.

Roel Castro, president and CEO of MORE Power, said putting up a new power substation in Iloilo City is critical to the stabilization of power supply in Panay, Guimaras, and Negros Islands.

Castro raised the caution when the House of Representatives and the Senate investigated last week the 4-day New Year blackout that hit Panay on January 2-5, 2024.

The NGCP, power plants, and power distributors have been blaming each other for the incident, but much onus was placed on NGCP, a company composed of Filipino and Chinese entities that has the responsibility to run the power transmission lines.

The NGCP said the completion of the Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) 3 backbone project will buttress the grid’s robustness and avoid prolonged blackouts in the future.

Castro said the CNP is a big project that requires power substations that also stabilize electricity supply. These substations are critical to bringing power to households from the power plants.

During the House probe, Castro pointed to the Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC) 138 kV S/S, 1×100 MVA, under the Panay–Guimaras 138 kV Interconnection.

The line connects PEDC’s coal-fired power plants in Lapaz, Iloilo City to NGCP’s transmission facilities.

“One of the delayed projects, probably not the big projects, but this is something already a delayed project for Iloilo is that (PEDC 138 kV S/S, 1×100 MVA) of NGCP supposedly commissioned last year,” he said.

Castro said time is of the essence as it usually takes more than a year to put up power substations.

“This is a small project in the scheme of things with NGCP, but if it won’t happen, we will have rotating brownouts. It takes 405 calendar days to complete substations. If they don’t finish early, we will have rotating brownouts again,” he added.

The MORE Power top honcho said their power substations will be affected if NGCP does not put up more facilities in the Panay-Negros grid.

“Iloilo City will be on rotating brownout because there is not enough capacity from the grid connected to MORE Power’s substation.”

Based on the answers provided by NGCP and DOE, delays in the acquisition of properties and right of way for the transmission facilities are the main reasons for the slow construction pace.

Part of CNP involves the construction of 230 kV transmission line facilities from the Barotac Viejo Substation in Iloilo province to the Cebu Substation.

It is designed to accommodate the transmission of excess power equivalent to the output of two 400-MW plants from Panay and Negros to Cebu.