Dark times ahead if the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines doesn’t shape up | Inquirer Opinion

Dark times ahead if the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines doesn’t shape up

/ 05:03 AM January 19, 2024

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) opened the year with a bang: a three-day brownout that crippled the islands of Panay, Guimaras, and parts of Negros Occidental, and caused losses in billions of pesos. Instead of welcoming the year with joy and hope, people in these areas had to face literal dark and hot days because of NGCP’s failure to secure reliable power for the province. Schools closed, businesses shut down, and lives were put on hold, simply because of NGCP’s negligence in fulfilling its mandate to serve the people.

In the summer of 2023, the NGCP warned of possible power outages, and an unexpected red and yellow alert in Luzon was declared. The outages were similar to those in Panay a few months earlier and the massive power blackout in Mindanao in 2015. Rotating brownouts have become the norm in several parts of Luzon, a recurring problem that NGCP has miserably failed to address.

It’s time to call a spade a spade. The NGCP has been negligent in fulfilling its obligation to secure a reliable ancillary power service agreement, nor a reliable electricity infrastructure for the consuming public. It has also failed to ensure a dependable and safe transmission backbone for the country. Yet it continues to charge its consumers transmission charges for the service it has failed to deliver, for ancillary charges it has failed to contract, and electricity infrastructure it has not yet built.


Here’s what we have to say: NGCP must fulfill its responsibility and be held accountable for its failure and negligence.


Despite billions in profit, NGCP has been slow in linking the three main island grids to ensure a stable electricity supply, nor has it fully upgraded all the transmission assets, thus causing unexpected tripping and outages.

And who can forget Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ exposé that the NGCP is passing on its janitorial and security services amounting to P8.7 billion from 2009 to 2022 to consumers as transmission charge?

It must be held accountable for its shortcomings: NGCP’s executives enjoy windfall profit while shortchanging the public.

The power outages in Panay and in many parts of the Philippines are not accidents, but a result of NGCP’s failure as a private corporation responsible for operating, managing, and ensuring that the country’s grid provides reliable, sufficient, and safe electricity. Without a sustainable and affordable electricity supply, our road to economic growth and development will be for naught.

In the country’s roadmap toward energy and electricity security, the government must lay down its thrust to ensure electricity consumers, especially household consumers, sufficient electricity at an affordable price. Part of that thrust is to ensure that the NGCP accomplishes its mandate and be of true service to the people.

The current hearing at the Senate on the three-day nightmare in Panay must get things done. We also urge Congress to convene the Joint Congressional Energy Commission to review NGCP’s franchise. Is it a corporate entity or a public utility? Is it time to review the return of system operation to government control while keeping the NGCP—the money-making corporate machine—as transmission operator?


Further, we need to review NGCP’s rate mechanism if it has indeed built what it has committed under its Transmission Development Plan. More importantly, has it built the assets that consumers have already paid for?

The Marcos administration must revisit the franchise of the NGCP for its repeated failure to secure reliable electricity for the public. The Energy Regulatory Commission must also set a nonextendable deadline and impose penalties for further delays in the completion of the Cebu-Negros-Panay Interconnection Lines, including the substation in Panay that was promised to be built by Dec. 31, 2024. The Department of Energy must stop its kid-glove treatment of NGCP and administratively reprimand it for its failure to fulfill its public commitment. These must be done before things get worse.

Bas Umali,

national coordinator,

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.


TAGS: Letters to the Editor, NGCP

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.