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Mindanao-Visayas grid link starts testing phase in March

THE Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) said the project linking the power grids of the Visayas and Mindanao is expected to be completed by March.

“During the ceremonial launch of WESM (Wholesale Electricity Spot Market) Mindanao, it was announced that MVIP (Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project) will be commissioned by the end of March,” Isidro E. Cacho, Jr., IEMOP’s head of Corporate Strategy and Communications, said in a briefing.

The P52-billion MVIP will connect the Mindanao and Visayas power grids, to ensure the sharing of energy across the network and create a market for surplus power.

Robinson P. Descanzo, IEMOP’s chief operating officer, said that according to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines the start of testing for the MVIP will begin in March.

“Gradually, while the unit testing is being conducted, the cable will be energized. It will start with a certain megawatt (MW) amount for import and export of power through that interconnection until it reaches the maximum capacity of the cable which is 240-MW,” Mr. Descanzo said.

Mr. Descanzo said that by the second quarter the import and export of power through interconnection may hit 80 MW to 100 MW.

“These are just estimates but again the build-up of export and import of power from Mindanao to the Visayas and vice versa will  be gradual,” he said.

In January, the Department of Energy announced the start of the commercial operations of WESM Mindanao, which is expected to help lower the power costs in the region.

Meanwhile, IEMOP said that electricity spot market prices may continue to increase for the rest of February due to an expected lower supply margin.

“For the rest of February, covering the remaining days of the Malampaya shutdown, we are projecting that we will have an average market price of P7.55 per kWh, with the lower overall supply margin equivalent to 3,882 megawatts as compared to January’s 4,979 MW,” Christian Karla A. Rica, IEMOP knowledge management specialist, said in a virtual briefing last week.

The Malampaya gas field is currently shut down for maintenance until Feb. 18.

Malampaya-supplied plants account for up to 27% of the Luzon power grid’s electricity requirements. During its shutdown, the five power plants with a combined capacity of 3,453 MW will need to run on alternative fuel.

As of Feb. 8, electricity spot market prices rose P1.67 to P7.43 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) from their January levels.

Ms. Rica said that in early February, supply levels declined to 13,601 MW from 14,232 MW while demand continued to increase to 9,785 MW from 9,253 MW. — Ashley Erika O. Jose