NATIONAL Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said on Thursday that it is “significantly closer” to interconnecting the electricity grids in Mindanao and the Visayas after it completed key components of the project, including facilities in areas where they will link.

In a statement, the privately owned power transmission company said it is done with the construction of the cable terminal stations in Santander, Cebu and Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte, as well as the installation of two 92-kilometer 350-kilovolt (kV) high voltage direct current (HVDC) power cables and two 92-kilometer fiber optic cables.

NGCP said these “critical” components of the P52-billion Mindanao-Visayas interconnection project “are now complete and ready for energization.” The Mindanao grid will be linked to the Visayas grid via an HVDC system, which has a 450-megawatt initial capacity.

“We hoped this would finish on time, but factors beyond our control required an adjustment to our project timeline. We are working double-time to complete the overhead transmission line portions and advance the project to its commissioning stage to connect the Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao grids,” the company said.

It said site acceptance tests were conducted at the Dapitan and Santander cable terminal stations to make sure the installed facilities meet NGCP’s requirements.

The company targets to complete the project by the end of the year.

“NGCP continues to appeal for the support of the local and national government to push this into fruition. Delays in local government permitting, and right-of-way issues from slow judicial processes and unsupportive landowners continue to delay our efforts,” it added.

NGCP said the target completion date remains the same even after encountering delays because of the pandemic. The delays were caused by restrictions on the entry of foreign experts, work suspension, and manpower reduction.

The submarine cable component of the project was originally scheduled for June 2021 after work started in November 2018. But the first submarine cable was damaged by a third-party vessel and repair was completed only in November 2021.

Another completed component is the energized Lala-Aurora 138-kV transmission line, which was finished on Feb. 19, 2022, to improve the reliability of power transmission services between Lanao del Norte and provinces in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Up for completion are other components such as the Dumanjug bus-in to Colon-Samboan 138-kV transmission line, for December 2022; the Dapitan-Lala 350-kV transmission line, Kauswagan-Lala 230-kV transmission line, and Kolambugan-Lala 20-kV transmission line, for August 2022; and the Dumanjug-Santander 350-kV transmission line, Magdugo-Dumanjug 230-kV transmission line, and Dumanjug-Alegria 20-kV transmission line for October 2022.

NGCP holds a 25-year concession and a 50-year franchise to expand and operate the country’s power transmission grid. It operates the country’s transmission network linking power generators and distribution utilities.

Publicly listed Synergy Grid & Development Phils., Inc. indirectly controls 60% of the outstanding capital stock of NGCP, its sole operating asset, with an effective equity interest of 40.2% consisting of common shares.

On Thursday, shares in Synergy Grid slipped by 0.33% or four centavos to close at P12.16 each. — Victor V. Saulon