By Lenie Lectura | Business Mirror


THE P52-billion Visayas-Mindanao Interconnection Project (VMIP) is the first power project to be certified as “Project of National Significance” under Executive Order (EO) 30.

“I signed the certification for Vis-Min,” Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi of the Department of Energy (DOE) said in an interview on Monday.

EO 30 states that concerned government agencies shall act upon applications for permits involving Energy Projects of National Significance (EPNS) not exceeding a 30-day period. If no decision is made within the specified processing time frame, the application is deemed approved by the concerned agency.

This effectively reduced the time to process the permits needed for power projects to take off.

“The processing of permits will be faster. All agencies will be supporting that,” Cusi said.

The VMIP involves the interconnection of the Visayas and Mindanao via Cebu and Zamboanga. The project is estimated to be completed in 46 months.

The Visayas-Mindanao Interconnection Project is meant to interconnect the major grids into a single national grid. This is expected to help improve the overall power-supply security in the country, as sharing of reserves will already become possible.

There is also another power project close to being declared as EPNS, Cusi said.

“I am ready to issue a certification for the Atimonan power project of Meralco,” Cusi added.

Meralco, through MeralcoPowerGen Corp. (MGen), is putting up the country’s first ultra-supercritical coal-power plant in Atimonan, Quezon. The facility’s capacity is 2×600 MW.

“The reason why I have not yet issued it is because I want the effect of a bilateral agreement on the rates to be clear. I want it to be put to test so it will be fair and equitable,” Cusi said.

When asked why the Atimonan project should be certified as EPNS, Cusi said the country needs to ramp up its power-generating capacity in anticipation of growing demand for electricity.

“We have to prepare and build that capacity,” he added.

The VMIP and the Atimonan power project are among the “more than 10” applications received by the DOE vying to be certified as EPNS.

“There are renewable-energy projects also lined up and are included in the 10. More or less, the majority of those that applied are power-generation projects,” Cusi said.

In order for an energy project to be considered among the EPNS, power generation and transmission projects must have a capital investment of at least P3.5 billion, significant contribution to the country’s economic development, significant consequential economic impact, significant potential contribution to the country’s balance of payments, significant impact on the environment, complex technical processes and engineering designs, and significant infrastructure requirements.