NGCP maintains fiber optic network is in line with concession agreement

MANILA — Following the allegations made by the National Transmission Corp. (TransCo) on the issue of the fiber optic network, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) clarified that its fiber optic network is currently being used for transmitting electricity.

In a press conference held Friday, NGCP spokesperson, Atty. Cynthia Alabanza, told reporters that the company has not violated any law in maintaining fiber optic cables in NGCP sites.

”NGCP is a private company. We are a concessionaire. Our main purpose is to improve, expand and provide an efficient transmission grid to the consumers according to our concession agreement, our franchise under Republic Act 9511 and in accordance with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA),” Alabanza said.

She explained that NGCP uses a fiber optic network to synchronize the operations of its almost 200 substations, balancing power supply and demand in real time.

Responding to the allegation that NGCP is in violation of the concession agreement, Alabanza countered that NGCP is allowed to conduct related businesses that will maximize the use of existing assets and that the fiber optic capacity is open to any entity interested to develop the national broadband network, with the national government as priority.

She reiterated that antennas and other telecommunications equipment are installed in NGCP sites as part of a co-location arrangement with telecoms companies and even the state weather bureau, PAGASA, because weather forecasts are important to the operations of the grid.

Some of these equipment, she said, have been installed in sites since NGCP assumed management of the grid from TransCo.

Alabanza also clarified that prior approval from the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) was not necessary because Section 8 of the concession agreement indicates that a concessionaire does not need consent to enter into any business other than the activities required and permitted, and since the telecommunications business is an activity that maximizes the assets, prior approval was not required.

Alabanza also cited Section 1 of RA 9511 of the Franchise Act, which authorizes NGCP to engage in any related business that maximizes the utility of its assets, such as the telecommunications system.

”Prior approval may not have been requested but this does not necessarily mean we will not seek permission,” she stressed.

Alabanza also pointed out that although it has co-location agreements with Globe and Smart, these companies merely “piggyback” on NGCP’s right of way or existing facilities but are in no way tapping or using NGCP fiber optic cables.

She denied that TransCo has been denied access to inspections, saying that due to the sensitive nature of its operations and the possibility of massive power and service interruptions, access by anyone to NGCP sites is covered by reasonable limitations.

NGCP strictly complies with its concession agreement and all applicable laws, rules and regulations, Alabanza emphasized. Though it welcomes any audit, inspection and evaluation of its operations, reasonable restrictions will be imposed to ensure that its mandate of a 24/7 power transmission is never interrupted, she said.

The NGCP spokesperson also clarified that transmission cost amounts to only 7.38 percent (nationwide average) of the electric bill.

”We do declare all revenues and use them to lower power rates. We join them in that purpose,” she said.

Alabanza maintained that since the NGCP took over power transmission services in 2009, it has remained transparent with its operations.

She however lamented that the issue of the fiber optic was brought to the attention of the media and not directly to them. Abs Abando/PNA