Submarine power cable project to start in a few months – NEA

Construction of the submarine cable project that would connect the Catanduanes island grid to the main Luzon power grid would start several months from now, an official of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) announced last Saturday.

Speaking before more than 7,000 member-consumer-owners of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) during the 43rd Annual General Membership Assembly (AGMA) at Plaza Rizal in Virac last Sept. 3, 2022, Atty. Vic Alvaro, NEA department manager for legal services, based his statement on the fact that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has already conducted jurisdictional hearings on the application for provisional authority filed by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) last June.

In the same event, Governor Joseph Cua likewise expressed optimism that the project would soon be implemented and help assure sustainable and satisfactory supply of electricity to the island, which he said is a key factor in attracting investors to set up industries especially in the proposed economic processing zone.

Also present was Congressman Eulogio Rodriguez, who declared that he has asked the National Power Corporation to retain the 3.6-mW low-speed diesel genset at Marinawa to serve as back-up power in case the smaller gensets of Sunwest Water & Electricity Co. break down.

Just a few weeks after his victory, Rodriguez was quoted as saying that he would not support the grid interconnection project, describing it as not timely.

It may be recalled that former Cong. Hector Sanchez proposed the connection of the island grid to the Luzon grid via submarine cable from Camarines Sur to San Andres, with the National Transmission Corporation initially signing a memorandum of agreement with FICELCO for the grid interconnection project.

However, funding issues apparently derailed the project, which has then been taken up by the privately-owned NGCP.

The corporation has said that the interconnection of integration of Catanduanes to the main grid in Luzon is one of its long-term goals as the country’s transmission operator.

It said it would enable the electricity consumers in the island through its distribution utility or directly as a contestable customer to have access to a more reliable and competitive generation sources in the Luzon Grid.

“The interconnection will support the load growth and power demand needed by the Catanduanes Island thereby pushing the socio-economic development through the government’s economic plans and programs for the island in the near and long term,” it stressed.

As indicated in the application, the project will involve the construction of 230kV overhead transmission lines from Naga City to Presentaction (70 km), 69kV overhead transmission lines from Presentation to Lagonoy (28 km), 69kV overhead transmission lines from Presentacion to Bitaogan (12 km), 69kV submarine cable from Bitaogan to Asgad in San Andres (23 km) and 69kV overhead transmission line from Asgad to San Andres substation (1 km).

The NGCP said the estimated cost of the proposed CCIP project is P9.5 billion with an implementation period of 48 months or two years.

It pointed out that the existing generating plants in Catanduanes cannot accommodate and keep up with the growing demand of electricity, a scenario that it also prevalent in other islands of the Philippines thereby stunting economic growth in these areas.

To address this, the implementation of a long-term solution for a reliable and competitive power supply must commence as early as possible, the corporation stated.

“Considering that NGCP needs 48 months to fully complete the CCIP, the implementation must commence immediately,” it added in justifying the prayer for issuance of provisional authority.

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