THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has approved the application of Energy Development Corp. (EDC) to develop a point-to-point power transmission line that will connect its 3.6-megawatt (MW) power plant near Mount Apo to the Mindanao grid.
However, the regulator denied the company’s application to operate and maintain the transmission line, a function which it gave to privately-owned National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).
In arriving at its decision, the ERC said it had focused its evaluation on the technical capability of EDC to develop the transmission facility, and the mode of recovery of cost in case it is “required for competitive purposes and ownership” to be transferred to the government or NCGP.
In its decision, the ERC said that as a general rule state-led National Transmission Corp. or its concessionaire NGCP has the responsibility to provide grid interconnection for power generation facilities under Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.
However, the regulator pointed out an exception.
“A generation company may develop and own or operate dedicated point-to-point limited transmission facilities that are consistent with the Transmission Development Plan (TDP): Provided, that such facilities are required only for the purpose of connecting to the transmission system, and are used solely by the generating facility, subject to prior authorization by the (ERC),” the agency said.
The ERC also said that the power plant was included in the committed projects submitted to the Department of Energy to help augment the power requirements of the Mindanao grid.
“Thus, the development of the subject facilities is necessary for the said connection,” it said.
In its filing, EDC placed the cost of the transmission facility at P244.69 million. It intends to connect the plant to the grid through an approximately 1-kilometer 69-kilovolt transmission line.
EDC’s project, called Mindanao 3 (M3) binary geothermal power plant, expands its existing Mt. Apo geothermal facility with an additional supply of renewable power in Mindanao.
In its website, the company said the project will not only contribute reliable power to Mindanao but will also avoid around 25,000 tons of equivalent carbon dioxide yearly through the use of geothermal energy instead of coal.
The binary power plant, which started construction during the pandemic, will make use of existing brine from the company’s 103-MW Mindanao 1 and 2 geothermal power plants to generate energy without need for additional drilling.
The brine’s heat is harnessed to generate electricity for the new power plant before it is re-injected back to the reservoir. It was synchronized to the Mindanao grid on March 12, 2022, and passed NGCP’s compliance testing on March 25. — Victor V. Saulon