NGCP seeks gov’t intervention on Zamboanga power issue

Published August 8, 2020, 6:00 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Private transmission firm National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) is seeking the intervention of relevant government agencies in addressing stability and reliability concern of power service delivery to consumers in Zamboanga City.

The company indicated that from January to May this year, it logged spike in incidents of “undervoltage and voltage fluctuations” from both the generation and transmission side of the network – that in turn had affected service provision to customers of Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative Inc. (ZAMCELCO).

“NGCP is seeking the government’s intervention in creating long-term solutions to ensure power quality and reliability for customers in Zamboanga peninsula,” the transmission firm pleaded.

The firm explained that a short-term measure that could fix “undervoltage” dilemma, may include “the replacement of capacitor banks which have been installed as early as 2018,” at its Pitogo substation.

Presently, it noted that four 7.5 MVAR (megavolt amps reactive) capacitor banks at the specified substation caters to ZAMCELCO and its power supplier Western Mindanao Power Corporation (WMPC).

Other interim measures employed by NGCP include: certifying WMPC as ancillary services (AS) provider for dispatchable reserve and for reactive power support to underpin the system of the transmission company; and transposition activity for the Aurora-Nagamin and Nagamin-Zamboanga 138-kilovolt lines “to help mitigate unbalanced voltage in the area.”

NGCP nevertheless qualified these are just “short and mid-term remedial measures to help solve the power quality issues” confronting electricity service delivery by ZAMCELCO and WMPC.

For the longer term, the company opined that energy planners must “adopt a more holistic approach to power development, so that the needs of the grid as a whole will be better coordinated, and power plant locations will be more strategic.”

Moving forward, NGCP stated “the energization of the Kauswagan-Lala-Aurora line, the Lala-Naga (Min)-Zamboanga line; and the completion of the MVIP (Mindanao Visayas Interconnection Project), will further improve voltage condition in the area.”

What is at hand though, according to NGCP, “are only stop-gap measures to the larger issues of lack of power generation plants to provide voltage support and address increasing demand in the area.”

Another drawback is the problematic right-of-way access to older lines for maintenance, specifically the 350-kilometer Aurora-Naga Min-Zamboanga line, which has been serving ZAMCELCO and other customers in the peninsula.

Since that facility is among the longest radial lines in Mindanao and it was built long before NGCP took over the operations of the transmission assets in 2009, it was emphasized that “its weak configuration is a factor in the power quality issues.”