NGCP, Chinese partner set aside politics for transmission business

By Iris C. Gonzales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 25 2014 07:39 AM | Updated as of Mar 25 2014 03:39 PM

SHANGHAI, China – The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, the country’s power grid operator, remains unfazed with the current geopolitical issues facing Manila and Beijing as it continues to seek ways on how to improve its operations with the help of its Chinese technical partner, the State Grid Corp. of China (SGCC).

“What politics divide, businesses unite,” NGCP president and chief executive officer Henry Sy Jr. said in text message.

During a technical visit to its facilities here, NGCP highlighted various ways on how it can learn from its technical partner in improving the business.

“Among these technological advances is the smart grid technology that we have began implementing in the Philippines. We will have a pilot substation in Antipolo, which we will commission soon. This will help us better integrate the systems and allow us to accept renewable energy sources,” said NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza.

“A smart grid would help us maximize the grid capability. Apart from the physical technology, SGCC is also helping us with procedural technology systems the way we can go about the transmission business in the most efficient manner so the technology transfer is something that SGCC wants to emphasize and as a foreign partner of NGCP. We hope to bring back this technology to the Philippines,” she added.

Eyeing the long-term development of the Philippine grid, NGCP took advantage of SGCC’s advanced technology and technical expertise to effect positive changes to the country’s transmission system, she said.

SGCC sent its specialists to share the latest in the fields of transmission grid planning and design, smart grid technology, renewable energy integration, calamity management, and grid operations.

Furthermore, SGCC also helped the establishment of transmission standardization, which paved the way for NGCP’s improved procedures and more efficient operations which, in turn, reduced the cost of transmission projects and upgraded the transmission system’s reliability, NGCP said.

NGCP also credits the technology and knowledge transfer from SGCC for its outstanding performance based on the Energy Regulatory Commission’s set of indicators.

In 2013, NGCP posted its best performance since it started five years ago with a 60 percent decrease in cases of line tripping since the start of operations, 100 percent compliance with the required frequency level for the Luzon grid, and an average of 99.77 percent compliance with the required voltage level for the entire grid in the last three years.

Benefitting from SGCC’s experiences in handling natural calamities, NGCP was also able to establish a new Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA) and Overall Disaster Control Center (ODCC). All these best practices helped NGCP supervise and monitor power grid more effectively and mitigate the damages brought by typhoons, earthquakes and other calamities that struck the country in recent years.

SGCC was also a major player in the restoration of the high-voltage direct current (HVDC) facility of NGCP damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. A technical team came to the country to repair the facility which allowed the sharing of power supply from Luzon to the Visayas. The facility augmented the power supply in Visayas while generators in the area were not yet online. The restoration of HVDC system saved time and reduced losses of disaster-affected areas both directly and indirectly.

SGCC, as a technical partner of NGCP, also has investments and operations in other developed and developing countries and regions such as Australia, Portugal, Brazil and Hong Kong.

It has given NGCP its assurance to continue sharing its best practice and experience to help achieve the goal to be the best transmission service provider in Southeast Asia.

“SGCC is more mature than NGCP in terms of technology and industry practices. NGCP hopes to further develop the Philippine transmission grid through SGCC’s expertise, particularly in research and technologies. NGCP and SGCC will continue to work together to expand and strengthen the country’s transmission network to make it at par with foreign counterparts,” Alabanza said.

Zhu Yue, deputy director of technical and telecoms of SGCC Shaanxi Electric Power Corp., said having a smart grid would help provide customers better and safer electricity service.

“We are working on customer safety,” he said.