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DOE chief says China can ‘potentially’ shut down PHL’s power transmission

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has been uncooperative in having a security  audit of its system, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said Friday, noting that China has the potential to  remotely shut down the country’s power transmission grid because of its digital nature.

Lawmakers are urging for a legislative probe into the national security implications of partial Chinese ownership in, and control of, the country’s power transmission grid, with the State Grid Corporation of China as the single biggest equity holder in NGCP at 40%.

Henry Sy Jr.’s Monte Oro Grid Resources Corporation and Robert Coyiuto Jr.’s  Calaca High Power Corporation hold a 30% stake each in NGCP.

“I wouldn’t say it’s unfounded. It’s a concern that has been raised before,” Cusi told GMA News Online.

“Potentially, I repeat potentially, they can do it (remotely shut down) considering its digital nature,” the Energy chief emphasized.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang claimed earlier this week that reports that China could shut down the Philippines’ power grid in the event of conflict have no basis and that the State Grid Corp. of China only took part in a National Transmission Commission (TransCo) project as a “cooperation partner.”

A separate report by CNN claimed that the Philippine power grid is under the full control of the Chinese government and could be shut off in time of conflict.

“Unfortunately, NGCP has been uncooperative to open itself up to an audit to once and for all answer the issue,” Cusi said.

“They even prevented and continue not to allow Transco (National Transmission Corp.) from inspecting the control centers and how they use the other infrastructure under their control,” he said.

NGCP has downplayed concerns about China’s role in the transmission grid, saying that State Grid is merely a “technical adviser.”

In a separate statement on Thursday, the Department of Energy (DOE) said it will actively take part in Senate inquiries to scrutinize China’s role in the power grid.

“We would like to emphasize that the matter at hand is not something new, and is, in fact, the very same points raised by Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi upon his assumption as head of the Department,” the DOE said.

“Given that there are aspects in the existing franchise agreement with the NGCP that seem inimical to the best interests of the national government, and more importantly, the Filipino people, both the DOE and TransCo continue to call for, and are fully supportive of the Senate’s interest to take a closer look at the administrative, operational, and procedural structures existing within the NGCP,” it said. —VDS, GMA News