Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sy Jr to advance P24-B for power grid

MANILA, Philippines - Henry Sy. Jr., the eldest son and namesake of the SM founder, said his group is willing to advance the needed amount of about P24 billion for the construction of the crucial transmission grid linking Visayas and Mindanao.

In a hearing of the Joint Congressional Power Commission, Sy assured lawmakers that they are ready to pour in much-needed capital to ensure the stability of power supply in the country’s transmission highway.

Sy’s One Taipan Holdings became a significant stakeholder in the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), the concessionaire that won the bid to operate the national power transmission assets, early last year with its purchase of the 30% interest of Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp.

Sy is now president and CEO of NGCP.

He said NGCP would be willing to frontload the funding requirements for the Leyte-Minda-nao Interconnection Project (LMIP), which is meant to further stabilize the supply and enhance the quality of electricity across the country by connecting the Visayas and Mindanao grids through 23 kilometers of submarine cables linking the Leyte and Surigao substations.

According to Sy, NGCP will “advance” the funds needed to jumpstart the project, which will be implemented as soon the the company secures the approval of the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC).

“We will advance the needed amount on a staggered basis as soon as ERC approves our petition,” he said.

Sy said that as soon as it obtains ERC approval, NGCP will carry out the first phase of the LMIP, which is the implementation of a feasibility and technical study that will take between six months to one year to complete.

ERC chairperson Zenaida Cruz Ducut, who was also present during the congressional hearing, said the ERC will hold public hearings on the NGCP petition to implement the first phase of the LMIP, and will come up with a decision “as soon as possible.”

Sy said NGCP has been working in tandem with the Department of Energy and other industry stakeholders, including distribution firms and electric cooperatives, in implementing all approved projects spelled out in the government’s National Transmission Development Plan (TDP).

NGCP took over the management of the country’s national transmission network two years ago from the National Transmission Co. (TransCo) after winning a 50-year concession to run the transmission assets through a public bidding, which was undertaken in line with the privatization thrusts of Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001.

Giovanni Randolf Galang of NGCP’s Transmission Planning Department said the first phase of the project - the conduct of a feasibility study - will cost about P92 million, and is necessary because the latest feasibility study on this longstanding LMIP was conducted way back in 2001.

He said an updated feasibility study is needed after 10 years to consider new developments and contingencies like the optimal voltage level requirements and the latest technologies in submarine cable systems.

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