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Officials eye power link for Borneo, Mindanao

A POWER interconnection for Borneo and Mindanao is getting a push to allow the Philippines to take in the cross-border electricity market under the Asean Power Grid that envisions to put the region under a single power grid by 2030, Mindanao Development Authority executive deputy director Romeo Montenegro said on Wednesday.

Montenegro said the project might come after the completion of the P51.6-billion Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project of the National Grid Power Corp. by early 2021 that would connect the country to a single national power grid.

The interconnection of Mindanao via Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte with Visayas via Cebu through a submarine cable would provide “a signal for investors to look at the Borneo-Mindanao interconnection,” he said.

“That is also the direction for Borneo-Mindanao interconnection via Sabah, we shall be connected by submarine cable in the near future, so that we have an opportunity to probably source out cheaper electricity from across border,” he added.

Citing a previous study by the Asian Development Bank, Montenegro said Mindanao was too small a market to be interconnected with Borneo, Malaysia but that 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 its 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.

He added the country could source cheaper hydropower in Sarawak state, Borneo.

He said the Philippines can sell excess power to its Asean neighbors, “but, for now, since they are cheaper it’s more of us importing electricity. If time comes, that ours appears 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 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, he said. (Antonio Colina IV of Mindanews)

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