Bill regulating activities within power corridors hurdles Senate on 2nd reading

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THE Senate approved on second reading a bill seeking to prevent obstruction or hazardous activities along power line corridors.

Senate Bill No. 2098 or the proposed Anti-Obstruction of Power Lines Act provides a mechanism that will ensure that power line corridors, which include the land beneath, the air space, and the area traversed by power lines, will be “kept clear and free from any Power Line Obstructions, Dangerous Structures, Hazardous Activities and Improvements.”

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) has been calling for the immediate passage of the bill in order to address the numerous obstructions within power line corridors which have produced power interruptions.

“With the approval of this measure, we shall put in place a mechanism that will allow for undisturbed, maintenance and rehabilitation of transmission, sub-transmission, and distribution lines,” said Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on energy, in his sponsorship speech.

The measure gives power line operators and owners the right to clear trees within power line corridors without securing prior clearance or permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

In cases wherein the power line corridor is located within private property, the measure requires the owner to remove the obstruction in coordination with the power line operator or owner.

The measure also prohibits the planting of tall plants and the construction of hazardous improvements or the conduct of hazardous activities in power line corridors. It also prohibits the refusal of entry to duly authorized agents of the power line owner or operator.

Penalties include a fine ranging from P50,000 to P200,000 or imprisonment between one month to 12 years, depending on the seriousness of the offense.

The power line owner or operators may also seek the assistance of local government units, the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in carrying out the clearing.

The bill also outlines relocation arrangements for persons residing in buildings partially or wholly inside the power corridor. — Camille A. Aguinaldo