THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has approved the application of grid operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to build a P644-million, 69-kilovolt (kV) transmission line project in northern Philippines to address the risk of overloading in the area, the agency said on Wednesday.

“The NGCP’s new La Trinidad-Calot 69 kV Transmission Line will address the expected transmission overloading and will serve as a back-up in times of contingency or a failure in the transmission system. The project involves the construction of a transmission line using new right-of-way and de-commissioning of some portions of the old circuit line,” ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Agnes VST Devanadera said in a statement.

The project aims to provide a single outage contingency as required in the Philippine Grid Code and improve the reliability and transfer capacity of the transmission line. The approval of the project is subject to optimization based on its actual use and/or implementation during the reset process for the next regulatory period, as stated in the Rules for Setting the Transmission Wheeling Rates (RTWR) and other ERC issuances.

Optimization involves the removal of redundant assets and over-capacity, including inefficient design and “gold-plated” engineering within the existing network. NGCP is also required to conduct competitive bidding when buying major materials for the proposed projects.

The agency said the remaining old or existing line that will be dedicated to Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc.’s sanitary camp and Irisan should be reclassified as subtransmission asset and be divested to the distribution utility.

Under Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), NGCP is required to seek ERC prior approval of any plan to expand or improve its facilities to meet its mandate to construct, install, finance, improve, expand, rehabilitate, and repair the country’s transmission system and the grid.

“ERC approved this application of the NGCP for its La Trinidad-Calot 69 kV Transmission Line based on our evaluation that the benefits of the project outweigh its cost. Electricity consumers will be benefited with this NGCP project in terms of having sustainable electricity and continued economic growth, not only in the Province of Benguet, but in the entire Luzon region,” Ms. Devanadera said.

On Monday, ERC announced the approval of NGCP’s Cebu-Lapu-Lapu transmission project, which is estimated to cost around P1.884 billion. The facility will form part of the planned 230-kV transmission backbone in the Visayas and will serve as an outage contingency to the existing Cebu-Mandaue-Lapu-Lapu transmission corridor. The project is to be implemented from 2019 until 2020. — Victor V. Saulon