PRIVATELY OWNED National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) expects to complete as scheduled next year the P52-billion project that will link the power grids of Mindanao and the Visayas despite continuing right-of-way and permitting issues.

“MVIP (Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project) is underway. I hope we finish as scheduled. We have already awarded part of the submarine cable,” Nanette Nancy G. Bugnosen, NGCP chief finance officer, told reporters.

“We are still negotiating with some local government units for the necessary permits to proceed with the work, and also we are negotiating with some landowners for right-of-way clearance,” she added.

MVIP, which was classified in May 2018 by the Energy department as an energy project of national significance (EPNS), will undergo a streamlined permitting process while speeding up its required documentation for its faster construction and completion.

In November, NGCP announced that it had simultaneously broke ground on the project’s cable terminal stations in the municipality of Santander in Cebu, and Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte.

The cable terminal stations serve as the landing points of the two 92-kilometer submarine cables that will carry around 450 megawatts (MW) of power from the Visayas and Mindanao, and vice versa.

Considered the biggest power infrastructure project in Philippine history, the project also requires the installation of 526 circuit-kilometers of overhead transmission lines, high-voltage direct current converter stations, and upgrades to substations in both regions.

Ms. Bugnosen said once the negotiations with local governments and landowners are complete, NGCP will proceed with the needed construction.

“In the meantime, we have worked with the providers and consultants to make sure that we make the deadline — that’s end -2020,” she said.

MVIP is one of the 29 NGCP projects that were certified as energy projects of national significance by the Department of Energy. An executive order gives an EPNS faster issuance of regulatory and documentary requirements from local and national government agencies.

The perks include action on applications for permits and requirements within 30 days, and the automatic approval of all applications within five working days if no action of a government agency is made after 30 days.

The 29 projects will cost a total of P90.291 billlion as approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission. — Victor V. Saulon