Philippine senators want China investor out of National Grid following power outages

A senator also said the country’s territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea should prompt the government to reconsider State Grid Corp. of China's role in the country’s power sector.

Marlon Ramos

Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer


May 15, 2023

MANILA — Two administration lawmakers on Sunday pushed for a review of the congressional franchise of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) following last week’s power outages in Luzon, with Sen. JV Ejercito urging the government to exhaust all legal remedies to regain full Filipino control of the country’s energy transmission system.

“Any utility that concerns national security, such as aviation and electricity (distribution), should be under the control of the government,” Ejercito said in a radio interview.

In a statement to the Inquirer, NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza said the company is always ready to air its side in the proper forum.

“We have, from the time our concession commenced, pursued our mandate with transparency, infusing P300 billion in investments to the grid, lowering transmission wheeling rates, and improving transmission services over the years. We are confident that given a chance, this will be recognized,” Alabanza noted.

Ejercito pointed out that NGCP is 40-percent owned by the State Grid Corp. of China (SGCC). A group of Filipino businessmen led by tycoons Henry Sy Jr. and Robert Coyiuto Jr. owns the controlling 60-percent stake in the firm.

“The government should look for ways to buy back the shares that were acquired by the corporation owned by the Chinese government,” Ejercito said.

While the Chinese company is the minority group in the consortium, the senator claimed that SGCC officials had actual control of NGCP’s operations.

He said the country’s territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea should likewise prompt the government to reconsider SGCC’s role in the country’s power sector.

“What if one day China suddenly decides to turn off the whole grid system? Our entire economy will be paralyzed,” he warned.

Poor performance
Both Ejercito and Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the government, particularly the Department of Energy, should closely scrutinize NGCP’s performance after an energy official disclosed last week that the delay in its completion of various projects had resulted in the power interruptions.

Gatchalian, vice chair of the Senate energy committee, warned that NGCP may lose its 50-year legislative franchise due to poor performance.

The tripping of the transmission line that caused widespread outages in several Luzon provinces last week only showed that the grid system was not being maintained properly, according to the senator.

“(NGCP’s) franchise may be canceled because it requires them to provide good services to the people,” Gatchalian said.

NGCP, he added, failed to complete the Visayas-Mindanao interconnection and the improvements of the Cebu-Panay transmission lines, which were supposed to be completed in 2019.

“The NGCP should be held accountable for its failure to maintain the transmission lines and for the delayed projects,” Gatchalian said.

NGCP partially opened the facilities linking the Visayas and Mindanao grids early this month and said that full operation could be expected in the third quarter of this year.

scroll to top