National Grid Corporation of the Philippines

[OPINION] Dark times ahead if NGCP doesn’t shape up

Bas Umali

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[OPINION] Dark times ahead if NGCP doesn’t shape up

Raffy de Guzman/Rappler

'Filipino consumers are carrying the burden of NGCP’s shameless greed'

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) opened the year with a bang – a four-day brownout that crippled the islands of Panay, Guimaras, and parts of Negros Occidental and caused losses in billions of pesos. Instead of welcoming the year with joy and hope, people in these provinces had to face literal dark and hot days because of NGCP’s failure to secure reliable power for the province. Schools closed, businesses shut down, lives were put on hold, simply because of NGCP’s negligence in fulfilling its mandate to serve the Filipino people.

During the summer of 2023, the NGCP warned of possible power outages and an unexpected red and yellow alert in Luzon was declared, similar to the power outages also in Panay a few weeks earlier, and to the massive power blackout in Mindanao in 2015. Rotating brownouts have become the norm for several parts of Luzon, a recurring problem that NGCP has miserably failed to address.

It’s time to call a spade a spade. NGCP has been negligent in fulfilling its obligation to timely secure a reliable ancillary power service agreement. Sadly, the corporation can’t live up to its responsibility to secure a reliable electricity infrastructure to the consuming public. The NGCP continues to fail to ensure a dependable and safe transmission backbone for the country. Yet it has continued to charge all of consumers transmission charges for the service it has failed to deliver, for ancillary charges it has failed to contract, and electricity infrastructure it has not yet built. 

Here’s what we have to say: NGCP must fulfill its responsibility and be held accountable for its failure and negligence.

Despite billions in profit, NGCP has been slow in linking the three main island grids to ensure a stable electricity supply nor has it fully upgraded all the transmission assets, causing unexpected tripping and outages. 

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And who can forget Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ expose that the NGCP is passing on its janitorial and security services amounting to P8.7 billion from 2009 to 2022 to consumers as transmission charge?

Filipino consumers are carrying the burden of NGCP’s shameless greed. They must be held accountable for their shortcomings – NGCP’s executives enjoy windfall profit while short-changing the public.

The power outages in Panay and in many parts of the Philippines are not accidents but a result of NGCP’s failure as a private corporation responsible for operating, managing, and ensuring that the country’s grid provides reliable, sufficient, and safe electricity. Without a sustainable and affordable electricity supply our road to economic growth and development will be at naught.

In the country’s roadmap for energy and electricity security, it must lay down the current government’s thrust to ensure electricity consumers especially household consumers with an affordable electricity price. Part of that is to ensure that the NGCP works and accomplishes its mandate and be of true service to the Filipino people. 

The current hearing at the Senate for the four-day nightmare in Panay must get things done and we urge the Congress to convene the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC) to review NGCP’s franchise. Are they a corporate entity or a public utility? Is it time to review the return of system operation to government control while keeping the NGCP – the money-making corporate machines as transmission operator?

Further, we need to review NGCP’s rate mechanism if it has indeed built what it has committed under its Transmission Development Plan. More importantly, have they built the assets that the consumers have already paid for?

The Marcos administration must reprimand and revisit the franchise of the NGCP for its repeated failure to secure reliable electricity for the public. The ERC must also set a non-extendable deadline and establish penalties for further delays in the completion of the Cebu-Negros-Panay Interconnection Lines, including the substation in Panay that they promised to build by December 31, 2024. The Department of Energy must stop its kid-glove approach to NGCP and administratively reprimand it for its failure to fulfill its duties. These must be done before things get worse. – Rappler.com

Bas Umali is the national coordinator of Kuryente.org, an energy consumer welfare group.

1 comment

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  1. AM

    The story fails to mention who the people are behind what you termed the “shamless greed.”

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