LAGUNA, Jan 30, 2012 (PIA) – The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) admitted that it is having a hard time solving Right-of-Way (ROW) problems that affect its field operations.
In an interview with NGCP Spokesperson Atty. Cynthia P. Alabanza, she identified the various ROW violations that hamper the maintenance of NGCP’s transmission facilities.
“Common ROW violations we encounter are planting of trees within the ROW corridor, grass fires at or around our facilities, squatting and putting up of structures under our transmission lines, and kite flying. All of these activities can disrupt the transmission of power and cause power outages. More importantly, these activities damage our lines and compromise the safety of the public,” explained Alabanza.
ROW issues have been a concern of the transmission business even before NGCP took over the operations and maintenance of the country’s transmission facilities in 2009. “In fact, the bulk of our ROW concerns were inherited from the National Transmission Corporation (TransCo).
The year 2012 saw a nationwide total of 44 outages or line trippings caused by ROW violations. Twenty-five (25) incidents, or more than half of the total, occurred in Mindanao alone. Apart from being the cause of the problem, some ROW violators compound the problem by preventing our people from coming in and fixing damaged lines.
The net effect of all this is that so many residents relying on our speedy delivery of electricity suffer for the actions of a few,” Alabanza stated.“These problems also made it more difficult for our NGCP linemen to efficiently and effectively maintain the lines because, in addition to maintenance works on the actual transmission facilities, they devote a substantial amount of time to clearing theland first of vegetation,” she stressed.
Alabanza said, “ROW violations imply additional cost to the company because we have to clear the land of vegetation and structures before we can perform maintenance work. In cases where the ROW violations cause damage to facilities, the cost implication multiplies. There is the cost of repairs and restoration, in addition to the cost of additional manpower and manhourswhich could have been utilized for more inspection and maintenance activities.”
In addition to operational problems, NGCP also warned the public of the safety hazards for ROW violators. Transmission lines are open lines that carry a minimum of 69,000 volts and a maximum of 500,000 volts. “You don’t even have to touch the lines to be electrocuted. Electricity induction may occur once the safe clearance is breached. In other words, if you get near enough, even without touching the lines, you are in danger of being electrocuted,” Alabanza explained.
“Our lines carry electricity that is more than 300 times the powerof the electricity flowing in our households, which is just 220 volts. Breaching our safety clearances can be fatal,” warned Alabanza.
As a preventive measure, NGCP conducts regular safety information campaigns all over the country through print and broadcast media. They also conduct information and safety forums at the barangay level in communities traversed by their facilities to remind the public to take extra precautions when near the transmission lines. NGCP also coordinates with LGUs for help in getting word to the public about the risks and hazards of living under transmission lines.
“At the end of the day, ROW violations affect our power delivery service. In turn, the distribution utilities and the public at large suffer and are most affected,” said Alabanza.
NGCP is a privately owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s power grid. NGCP transmits high-voltage electricity through “power superhighways” that include the interconnected system of transmission lines and towers, substations and related assets. NGCP’s regular maintenance activities and expansion projects aim to enhance the reliability and quality of electricity delivered to customers. (NGCP/PIA Sorsogon)