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China calls fears of grid shutdown ‘groundless’

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REUTERS

CHINA said there is no basis for fears that one of its grid companies which invested in the Philippines has the ability to shut down power here.

“To my knowledge, the State Grid Corp. of China took part in the Transco (the Philippines’ National Transmission Corp.) project as a cooperation partner, providing safe, efficient and high-quality electricity services,” Geng Shuang, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in a statement issued by the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

State Grid, one of China’s two grid companies, which is responsible for power transmission in northern China, is a 40% investor in the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

The foreign ministry issued the comments from a Nov. 27 briefing.

“The project is now operated, managed and maintained by the Philippine side, with the Chinese partner offering necessary technical support upon request,” Mr. Geng said.

“The allegation of China’s control over the Philippines’ power grid or threat to the country’s national security is completely groundless. Besides, the Chinese business also actively fulfills its social responsibilities. The ‘Brighten Up’ project that brings electricity to remote areas in the Philippines has been applauded by local authorities and people,” he added.




Philippine legislators are calling for an investigation into NGCP’s ownership, raising concerns that China is capable of shutting down the Philippines’ transmission system.

Separately, the Philippines’ Department of Energy (DoE) said Thursday that it “welcomes the strong public attention, as well as the ensuing discussions on national security concerns surrounding [NGCP], which has been brought forth by questions raised by some Senators.”

The questions were raised during the Energy department’s budget plenary deliberations on Nov. 19.

The DoE said together with TransCo, it will “actively take part in the Senate inquiries that will be scrutinizing these issues. We would like to emphasize that the matter at hand is not something new, and is, in fact, the very same point raised by [Energy] Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi upon his assumption as head of the Department.”

It said both DoE and TransCo would continue to call for and are fully supportive of the Senate’s interest to take a closer look at the administrative, operational, and procedural structures in NGCP given that aspects in the existing franchise agreement with the grid operator “seem inimical to the best interests of the national government, and more importantly, the Filipino people.”

“We consider the Senate hearings as a positive development towards the long overdue and much needed audit of NGCP, as well as the comprehensive reexamination of the Franchise Agreement, which is part of the Presidential directive to review all government contracts that appear to be onerous,” the DoE said.

“These steps would facilitate the introduction of all necessary amendments to uphold our national security and the welfare of our citizens and consumers,” it added.

On Wednesday, NGCP issued a statement outlining State Grid’s 40% stake in the company, adding that the controlling 60% belongs to Filipino companies Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. and Calaca High Power Corp. with 30% shares each.

As such, State Grid has only three nominees to the NGCP board proportionate to its capital shares, it added. — Victor V. Saulon

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