Public warns of trees planted under transmission lines

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Saturday, January 26, 2013


THE National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) warned those residents who plant trees under its transmission lines.

In a statement, the NGCP said trees and vegetation that grow or are planted inside or adjacent to NGCP’s existing transmission line right-of-way (ROW) are known to cause trippings or power outages when they breach prescribed safety clearances for high-voltage power lines.

The NGCP singled out Mindanao, specifically the Balo-i area, as particularly “troublesome.”

“Clearing of trees and vegetation under the 138-kiloVolt (kV) transmission lines emanating from NGCP’s Balo-i Substation has become difficult because of uncooperative landowners.

For January 2013 alone, the Balo-i-Agus 2 138-kV line already tripped seven times because of trees deliberately planted by unscrupulous landowners beneath the lines. That’s seven times in three weeks,” said NGCP spokesperson lawyer Cynthia Alabanza.

Alabanza said NGCP’s Balo-i Substation and lines are facilities crucial to the entire Mindanao grid, because the bulk of the power generated from the government’s Agus Complex enters the grid through the said substation.

The Agus Complex supplies 500 megawatts (MW) to the Mindanao grid, representing about 60 percent of the island’s total current supply.

At least 200 MW consumed by Southern Mindanao passes through NGCP’s Balo-i Substation and the transmission lines emanating from it.

“It’s not simply a question of making our work easier. The ROW violations also imply additional cost to the company because we have to clear the land of vegetation and structures before we can perform maintenance work. In cases where the ROW violations cause damage to facilities, the cost implication multiplies. There is the cost of repairs and restoration, in addition to the cost of additional manpower and hours which could have been utilized for more inspection and maintenance activities,” Alabanza added.

In addition to operational problems, the NGCP also warned the public of the safety hazards for ROW violators.

It said transmission lines are open lines that carry a minimum of 69,000 volts and a maximum of 500,000 volts.

“You don’t even have to touch the lines to be electrocuted. Electricity induction may occur once the safe clearance is breached. In other words, if you get near enough, even without touching the lines, you are in danger of being electrocuted,” Alabanza said.

She added that NGCP lines carry electricity that is more than 300 times the power of household electricity, which is just 220 volts.

As a preventive measure, NGCP conducts regular safety information campaigns all over the country through print and broadcast media.

It also conduct information and safety forum at the barangay level in communities traversed by their facilities to remind the public to take extra precautions when near the transmission lines.

The NGCP also coordinates with local government units (LGUs) in getting word to the public about the risks and hazards of living under its transmission lines.

“At the end of the day, ROW violations affect our power delivery service. In turn, the distribution utilities and the public at large suffer and are most affected,” Alabanza said.

Responsible trimming of trees and vegetation within the transmission line ROW is part of regular operation and maintenance procedures done by NGCP linemen.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has granted NGCP the authority to prune or cut any or all vegetation or trees that could cause trippings and outages of existing transmission lines where and when necessary.

The NGCP is a privately-owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining and developing the country’s power grid. It transmits high-voltage electricity through “power superhighways” that include the interconnected system of transmission lines and towers, substations and related assets.

The NGCP’s regular maintenance activities and expansion projects aim to enhance the reliability and quality of electricity delivered to customers. (PR/Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 27, 2013.

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