NGCP transmission tower hit, causes Mindanao power outages

Published January 19, 2021, 3:47 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Sporadic power interruptions were experienced in Mindanao on Monday (January 18), following reported sabotage on a transmission facility of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) – primarily Tower 60 of the 138-kilovolt Balo-i-Aurora line in Tangcal, Lanao del Norte.

The attack on the facility, according to NGCP, resulted in manual load dropping or major service interruptions in the franchise area of several electric cooperatives in Mindanao, chiefly those in Zamboanga Peninsula, Misamis Oriental and Lanao del Norte which had to suffer blackouts in their service network.

The customers who were tormented with brownouts because of the assault on the facilities are those served by the Zamboanga del Sur I Electric Cooperative (ZAMSURECO I) and ZAMSURECO II; Zamboanga del Norte Electric Cooperative Inc.; Misamis Occidental I Electric Cooperative Inc. (MOELCI I); MOELCI II and Lanao del Norte Electric Cooperative Inc.

As of press time, NGCP indicated that it was still “working with authorities to secure the area and to identify the perpetrators of the sabotage.”

The transmission firm added that “restoration of Tower 60 will commence as soon as the area is secured.” No definitive timeframe given yet on when electricity service will be restored in the affected areas.

With this new wave of attack on the facilities of the transmission company, NGCP reiterated that “any form of sabotage to transmission line and structures only serve to increase the burden of the public, which must suffer through service interruptions when towers are sabotaged.”

And given the adverse impact that service cut-off will evoke on consumers and the Philippine economy in general, NGCP has intensified its appeal to the public, national government as well as the local community leaders “to help identify the perpetrators of sabotage and prevent power interruptions.”

(Photo credit: [email protected])

In 2018, the “Anti-Obstruction of Power Lines Act” or Republic Act 11361 was enacted into law, primarily to safeguard the safe operations of transmission facilities and power lines; as well as to ease the predicament of power utilities in securing right-of-way (ROW) for their power projects.

NGCP itself has enumerated array of incidents that could endanger the facet of its operations – such as climbing the transmission towers, grass fire, slash and burn or kaingin initiatives; as well as neglectful construction of buildings in areas traversed by power lines.

ROW infringements also served as a major predicament for NGCP, primarily in the implementation of projects that will reinforce and expand its transmission network. On these pummeling of transmission facilities, the strength of the new law will also be tested if it can effectively penalize the perpetrators, so these physical attacks on power assets can be minimized if not totally prevented.