It’s not a simple case of wanting to tear down the trees and destroy the habitat.
The unbridled tree vegetation under the power lines of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) can topple its power transmission and cable lines, the agency argued in its appeal to the Department of Energy (DOE).
The NGCP has asked the DOE to resolve the perennial right-of-way (ROW) problem in Lanao provinces, where Agus hydroelectric plants (HEP) are located.
The Agus hydroelectric plants’ operation will have a critical effect on the power supply demand in the Mindanao grid.
If not swiftly addressed, the trees will lead to power failure and interruptions in Mindanao, the NGCP said in a press statement.
Prejudicial and discriminatory
“In spite of our appeal to land claimants not to plant trees below the transmission cables, these claimants deliberately planted fast growing trees below the transmission lines, for reasons only known to them, which appears to be prejudicial and discriminatory to the interest of the public at large,” the NGCP said.
It cited the tripping of Baloi-Agus 4 138kV lines 1 and 2, which occurred on June 4 in Lanao due to critical and unmanaged vegetation problems located between towers 2 and 3 of these lines. Line 1 was restored but line 2 remains out of service.
The NGCP specifically cited a claimant of land where the transmission lines traverse. The grid operator negotiated with the land claimant for payment to cut down the trees that caused the tripping, so that affected line may be restored.
But the claimant demanded P6 million for the NGCP to clear the vegetated lands he claims to own.
The persistent ROW problem in Lanao can indefinitely interrupt the operation of Agus 4 HEP, having a generation capacity of 180MW, the NGCP said.
The failure in negotiation led to the shutdown of Baloi-Agus 4 138kV line 2 on June 4.
If sustained tripping of Baloi-Agus 4 138kV line 2 will persist due to vegetation problems, Agus 4 HEP’s operation will stop, affecting the entire power supply of the Mindanao grid.
“This will mean power interruption of lines whether transient or permanent, causing brownouts or blackouts among Mindanao power customers and industrial customers to suffer production losses due to power outages and voltage dips,” the NGCP said.
It said it has also exhausted collaborative efforts with the local government units, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the military and even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, to settle the ROW issue.
The NGCP does not own the towers and lands on which the towers are standing on. Its franchise only covers the operations and management of the transmission facilities.
The assets, including lines, substations, land and structures, will remain with the Philippine government through the National Transmission Corporation.