December 11, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Senator puts NGCP to task in securing facilities

STRUCTURES BUILT by informal settlers under transmission facilities have become “uncontrollable,” leaving power supply vulnerable should they cause incidents such as the fire in Alabang on Wednesday, the head of the Senate energy committee said.

“They really have to relocate the informal settlers,” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said on Thursday in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of a seminar on energy issues in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.

Mr. Gathalian said he is of the position that it is the responsibility of privately owned National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to secure its facilities.

He cited that toward the end of the past decade when he was mayor of Valenzuela City, mayors of Metro Manila had urged NGCP to look at the problems that might arise with the setting up of structures under the transmission facilities.

He said in Valenzuela alone, there are around six kilometers of NGCP transmission lines, many of which are at risk because of the presence of informal settlers underneath.

At that time, he said, NGCP’s stand was that housing is not its mandate.

“But the point there is, you’re (NGCP) not doing anything,” he said, adding that the grid operator should have fenced the vacant areas underneath the power lines.

“That should be part of their cost, in my opinion,” he added.

NGCP, meanwhile, said yesterday that it had brought cranes and emergency restoration systems to hasten the repair of one of the towers of its Biñan-Muntinlupa 230-kilovolt (kV) lines 1 and 2 in Alabang, which was tipped over and damaged due to a fire that “emanated from an illegal settler colony under the tower.”

“The power carried by the affected lines was diverted to other facilities, resulting to no loss of transmission services,” NGCP said.

The company also said it continues to appeal to the public to respect transmission right-of-way clearances “to avoid similar incidents, which threaten both continued transmission operations and the safety of people in the area.”

It also renewed its call to local government units to support efforts in keeping these clearances free from safety violations. -- Victor V. Saulon