By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – A Borneo-Mindanao power interconnection is being pushed that will allow the Philippines to take in the cross-border electricity market under the ASEAN Power Grid, Mindanao Development Authority executive deputy director Romeo Montenegro said.
Montenegro said in an interview on Wednesday that this project might come after the completion of the P51.6 billion Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project of the National Grid Power Corporation (NGCP) by early 2021 that will connect the country to a single national power grid.
“Once Visayas and Mindanao are interconnected by 2021, definitely that provides a signal for investors to look at the Borneo-Mindanao interconnection,” he said.
Citing a previous study conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Montenegro said Mindanao was too small a market to be interconnected with Borneo, Malaysia but a single national grid makes the Philippines more viable for electricity market.
“At that time, it hasn’t seen the viability yet because of Mindanao being too small a market to warrant the financial viability of connecting Borneo and Mindanao. Once Mindanao is connected to Visayas and Luzon, that expands the market, that renders the financial viability of such interconnection,” he said.
He said some proponents are pushing ADB to update their study for this ambitious project, which is part of the interconnectivity goal of the ASEAN Power Grid to transition member economies to “a power market-operated regime.”
“Half of the ASEAN member countries are already interconnected,” he said.
Montenegro added that the country could source a cheaper hydropower in Sarawak state, Borneo.
The Philippines can also sell excess power to its ASEAN neighbors but added “but, for now, since they are cheaper it’s more of us importing electricity. If time comes, that ours appeared to be more competitive than theirs then that’s the time we would be able to sell our electricity supposing we have excess.”
He said the power cluster of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP EAGA) is also pushing for interconnectivity between Borneo and Palawan.
Palawan is not yet connected to the Luzon grid and utilizes power plants that run on more expensive diesel.