By Myrna M. Velasco
Transmission firm-concessionaire National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has formally filed an application with the Department of Energy (DOE) on getting its P52-billion Visayas-Mindanao Interconnection Project (VMIP) be covered by streamlined permitting processes under Executive Order 30.
It is among the initial 10 projects lodged with the energy department that may be accorded ‘time saving process’ on its required government approvals.
EO 30, which was issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in June last year, generally cuts the length of time on approval processes and licensing of projects, including the requirement on environmental clearance certificate (ECC) which is now harmonized with the system of the energy department.
“They (NGCP) already applied. It’s with Undersecretary (Jesus Cristino) Posadas,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi told reporters.
Posadas is the head of the Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EICC) that will process the applications of projects wanting to be placed under the policy tutelage of EO 30.
The energy official reiterated there are at least 10 projects that are under evaluation – which may be warranted streamlined permitting shield under the EO.
The big-ticket projects, according to Cusi, are the Vis-Min power transmission link-up of NGCP and a prospective geothermal energy exploration and development in Northern Luzon.
Posadas qualified though that they cannot divulge yet the other projects they are currently evaluating, as this might up the ante on their expectation of approvals.
“We are evaluating about 10 projects. All of them are still under evaluation, so we cannot name them yet. We will only identify them when we issue the certificates,” Posadas said.
NGCP recently indicated to media that it had already undertaken award of pre-construction contracts for the VMIP venture.
It nevertheless qualified that massive right-of-way concerns could be among the hurdles that may hobble timely completion of the facility link-up.
Based on project implementation blueprint that NGCP had submitted with relevant government agencies, it has been eyeing to put the interconnected transmission networks on commercial stream by year 2020, two years ahead of the targeted timeframe of the Duterte administration.
The link-up of Visayas and Mindanao will concretize the long held dream of the country to finally have a single national power grid – that will then enable sharing of energy capacities and reserves across islands.