THE National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said on Wednesday that it has started to energize the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP) linking the grids of the two island groups.

In a statement, NGCP said it has started to energize the high voltage submarine and overhead lines, with an initial load of 22.5 megawatts (MW) being transferred from Mindanao to the Visayas.

“The completion of the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project is a significant achievement for us and for the Philippines as a whole. This will not only improve the reliability of our transmission services but will lead to efficient energy utilization as one Philippine grid,” NGCP said.

The P52-billion transmission project consists of a 184 circuit-kilometer high-voltage direct current submarine transmission line connecting the power grids of Mindanao and Visayas with a transfer capacity expandable to as much as 900 MW.

“NGCP is committed to providing a reliable transmission network which is the backbone of the nation’s development. The completion of the MVIP is a significant step towards achieving that goal,” NGCP said.

The MVIP will also facilitate transfers of power surpluses to regions experiencing deficits.

“The MVIP will benefit consumers by providing them a more reliable and sustainable power transmission service that will reduce instances of power interruptions. It will also promote energy resource sharing, as excess power generated in one region can now be transmitted to the other,” NGCP said.

The Department of Energy (DoE) has said that it expects transfer capacity of 450 MW by June to July.

The MVIP was certified in 2018 as an Energy Project of National Significance, thereby undergoing an expedited approval process. It was initially targeted for completion by December 2020, though it was ultimately delayed by the pandemic.

The NGCP said parts of the MVIP were completed in 2022, such as the Lala-Aurora 138-kiloVolt (kV) transmission line, the 350-kV Submarine Cable, and Cable Terminal Stations in Santander, Cebu, and Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte.

“NGCP expects to complete the remaining components of the project and ramp up the transfer capacity of the facility in the coming months,” NGCP said.

Separately, Jephraim C. Manansala, chief data scientist at the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities said that with the energization of MVIP it is expected to alleviate the energy shortage on Luzon.

“Currently, Mindanao has a surplus of generation capacity,” Mr. Manansala said in a Viber message, which can be tapped by other regions.

However, he said that while the power grids will benefit from the sharing of generating capacity, this will not drastically improve the power supply situation in Luzon.

“It is important to note that this transfer capacity is smaller than the capacity of some baseload power plants that could potentially experience unplanned outages in May,” he said.

Last week, the DoE announced unplanned maintenance at the 647-megawatt Sual Coal-fired Power Plant Unit 1 in Pangasinan between April 29 and May 1.

The Energy department then warned that if the unplanned maintenance lasts until May 5-11, yellow or red alerts are likely to be issued.

Mario C. Marasigan, Energy assistant secretary, has confirmed that Sual has resumed operations as planned. — Ashley Erika O. Jose