Energy dept wants grid operator audited

Credit to Author: Jordeene B. Lagare| Date: Mon, 02 Dec 2019 17:28:11 +0000

THE Department of Energy (DoE) wants the National Transmission Corp. (TransCo) to conduct an audit of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) to put to rest the security issues hounding the latter amid lingering fears that China could take over the country’s power grid.

“Once and for all, let’s put a closure to that, and that can be done only [with an] audit…because [if there is a threat], whether…real or imaginary, [the government must be] ready for any eventuality, and we can do that only if [the] NGCP cooperates,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said in Taglish during the press briefing of the 2019 National Energy Consciousness Month at his agency’s headquarters in Taguig City.

“In this digital age, anything and practically everything is possible,” he added.

Cusi’s remarks come days after he said China was capable of closing down the country’s transmission grid — owned by TransCo, but operated as part of a concession agreement by the NGCP, which is 40-percent owned by the Beijing-run State Grid Corp. of China — because of the digital nature of its system.

The Chinese government earlier dismissed claims of a possible takeover of the grid, calling these “groundless.” It said its participation in the grid operator was limited to only providing technical support.

TransCo President and Chief Executive Officer Melvin Matibag said the government would not make any move contrary to what was indicated in the law and in the concession agreement.

Matibag questioned the capacity of NGCP President and CEO Anthony Almeda to have sole access to the grid’s virtual private network (VPN), for it may only be granted to the Filipino CEO during an emergency and after he undergoes a secure and confidential approval process.

“Is Anthony Almeda capable of holding the key? Because that is a national security [matter]. Does he have a national security clearance?” Matibag said, asking that, besides being the NGCP president, what right does he have to gain the access.

According to the Energy chief, he had requested the NGCP’s inspection, which the company had refused “in many occasions.”

“We wanted to find out how the fiber optic was being used. The government has a plan for a broadband network and we wanted to use the fiber optic,” Cusi said.

Any earnings from the use of these fiber optic cables can lower electricity rates, he added.
Cusi has tasked Energy Undersecretary Emmanuel Juaneza and TransCo to immediately inspect the NGCP.

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