NGCP: China can’t remotely shut off Philippine power grid

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NGCP: China can’t remotely shut off Philippine power grid

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) – December 3, 2019 – 11:23am

MANILA, Philippines — The National Grid Corporation (NGCP) denied reports that China can remotely shut off the Philippines’ power infrastructure.

China’s State Grid Corporation owns 40% of the NGCP, a privately owned consortium that runs the country’s power grid.

The National Transmission Corp. (Transco) and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier said China has the potential to shut down the Philippines’ power grid given its advancements in technology.

NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza, however, pointed out that it takes more than just a single button to shut down the country’s power.

“There is no proverbial Wile E. Coyote Acme red button that you can press to shut down the grid. We have over 200 substations all over the country and if you want to ‘shut down the grid’ you have to manually close each breaker in each substation so that is not possible,” Alabanza told ANC’s “Headstart Tuesday.

The NGCP’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), the system that runs the grid, is also stand alone and is not connected to the virtual private network.

According to Alabanza, the supplier is only granted remote access when repairs are needed but it is only done in a test environment that mimics the grid operations.

Once the supplier checks what is wrong in the system, they hand over the solutions to the Filipino engineers of the NGCP.

“You would have to call at the the very least 200 substation managers and have them shut off several breakers in each of these substations one-by-one so it’s not one button and it’s not remote. It has to be done manually,” Alabanza said.

On concerns over the stake of China’s State Grid on the NGCP, Alabanza stressed that the control remains with the Filipino stockholders at 60%.

The NGCP spokeswoman also noted that China’s State Grid also has stakes in other countries such as Australia.

“It’s not as if we’re being pinpointed or we’re being targeted. Those accusations and insinuations are just baseless,” she said.

China’s State Grid Corporation underwent an open public bidding to become the NGCP’s foreign technical partner as part of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.

The Chinese government already dismissed reports that it has full control of the Philippines’ power grid.

“The allegation of China’s control over the Philippines’ power grid or threat to the country’s national security is completely groundless,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang earlier said.