Cusi now downplays China’s threat but calls for audit of NGCP operations

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Monday downplayed China’s alleged intention to shut down the Philippines’ power grid but still called for an audit of the operations of National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.

“This situation of ours in not unique―China is also operating in Australia. The question is also if China can do it, will they do it? We are going to give them the benefit of the doubt. But the most important to us is―the government does its function in protecting the interest of the country and people,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said in a news briefing.

President Rodrigo Duterte said last week he continued to trust China despite the controversy.

Senators earlier raised concern over the possibility of China remotely shutting down the country’s power infrastructure through NGCP, which is 40-percent controlled by State Grid Corp. of China. The remaining 60 percent is controlled by Filipino businessmen.

NGCP operates the country’s transmission network through its concession agreement with the government.

Cusi said earlier that with new technologies, it is “potentially” possible for China to shut down the grid.

“Is that threat real or imagined? That can only be answered by us, government inspecting it and making sure the oversight function of government is carried, and we put in place whatever measures to prevent it from happening whether the threat is real or imagined,” Cusi said.

He said the inspection would put a closure on the perceived or imagined threat to the country’s power sector.

“The threat that people are talking to put a closure to that and for government to put up measures that we need to protect the republic and the people, so why not inspect it first,” Cusi said.

Cusi said the National Transmission Corp., the agency which owns the country’s transmission assets, would conduct the audit together with a newly-appointed technical officer from the DOE.

Cusi asked newly-appointed Energy Undersecretary Emmanuel Juaneza to visit NGCP to lead the audit “to answer once and for all if the accusation is factual.” 

Juaneza visited the NGCP headquarters in Quezon City on Monday.

“We wanted to inspect the backbone, that facility is owned by TransCo, so they should have the right to inspect,” the energy chief said.

Juaneza on Monday handed over a letter that NGCP has yet to review.

“We invited him to view our systems operations, but he politely declined, saying that he does not want to disturb our operations especially during the impending landfall of Typhoon Tisoy,” NGCP spokesman Cynthia Alabanza said.

Cusi earlier said DOE’s position is that the systems operations, a key function of NGCP should be recovered by the government as a private company or a private individual should not be given the control over the most critical infrastructure of the state which is the transmission grid network that is also capable of transmitting power and digital data.

“Systems operations comprises just about six percent of the whole transmission business. It is not critical to the business of NGCP. It should not have been included in the concession contract in the first place. However, it is critical for the existence of the state,” Cusi said.

The consortium of Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp., Calaca High Power Corp. and the State Grid as technical partner won the 25-year concession in 2007 to operate the country’s power transmission network after an open, public and competitive bidding process. 

Topics: Department of Energy , Alfonso Cusi , National Grid Corp. of the Philippines
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