The Philippine's Department of Energy is seeking the assistance of China's National Energy Administration (NEA) and State Grid Corporation (SGC) in exploring ways to fast track the line transmission development in the Southern and Central Philippines regions.
Energy minister, Alfonso Cusi, was quoted by the Philippines Inquirer that he has met with his Chinese counterparts to discuss the development of the Southern Philippines grid backbone and its potential distribution of electricity to the household levels in Mindanao (Southern Philippines). This development came amidst the ongoing series of power outages that plunged part of Mindanao into darkness this month.
Cusi said that the assistance they were seeking from China is more on the technical expertise - on how the energy department can speed up the transmission development plan. The National Electrification Administration reported that the Southern Philippines energisation is only 74% compared with the central and northern regions of the Philippines where electrification levels have reached 95.5% and 94% respectively.
Cusi emphasised that if Mindanao wanted peace, all households must have power.
Despite government's effort to introduce new economic development initiatives in Mindanao, at least a quarter of the island remains below the poverty threshold and analysts have attributed this issue as one of the root causes of Mindanao becoming terror cells breeding ground. The provinces of Basilan and Sulu in Mindanao are the poorest in Philippines and are known as the cradle of militant extremism.
The Department of Energy expects that a connection of Visayas grid to Mindanao grid can contribute to resolving poverty in the area and promote peace and development.
The Philippine Star reported that the proposal to link the Visayas and Mindanao grids started as early as the 1980s but it delayed due to the change of administration and new laws introduced, which reorganised the power sector.
Mindanao is home to 21 million people and is the hometown of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.