Seeking to allay the fears of the public, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) assured that the system that controls the country’s power transmission backbone is operated only by authorized Filipino technical experts.
NGCP issued this statement to assuage concerns that its Chinese partner may have the capability to remotely shut down the Philippines’ power infrastructure.
“There is nothing to be alarmed about the stake by the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) in NGCP as its investment is limited only to being a technical adviser,” said Anthony L. Almeda, NGCP president and CEO.
SGCC holds a 40% stake in NGCP with three representatives on the latter’s board.
The controlling 60% still belongs to Filipino companies Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. and Calaca High Power Corp., with an onwership of 30% each.
“SGCC serves only as the technical adviser of the consortium, but the management and the control of NGCP, including its systems operation, are exclusively exercised by Filipinos,” Almeda pointed out.
Almeda said the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), the system that controls the grid, is disconnected from the virtual private network, thus, remote users cannot connect to it.
“VPN access may only be granted to the Filipino CEO in an emergency situation and only after undergoing a secure and confidential approval process,” he said.
Since NGCP commenced its operations in 2009, the approval process for the VPN access has not been invoked and no remote access has been granted.
Almeda noted that its systems operation (SO) datacenter is equipped with biometric access controls which allow only authorized NGCP personnel to enter apart from the SCADA workstations and servers that have been secured by firewalls and layers of authentication systems to block unauthorized access.
To further dispel any security concerns, Almeda urged legislators and independent parties to personally see how the power grid is managed and operated.
Almeda said NGCP has not entered into other businesses, other than those permitted under the concession agreement.
Telecommunication companies like Globe and Smart use NGCP facilities via co-location agreements. A co-location agreement with NGCP allows a third-party to piggy-back with its right-of-way or existing facilities except tapping into or using the transmission service provider’s fiber optic cables.
The co-location agreements, including those inherited from Transco, allow these companies to perform only antenna and joint pole attachment, and installation of equipment.
“NGCP declares all earnings from related businesses and uses the same to lower transmission rates in full compliance with the provisions of EPIRA and Concession Agreement,” he said.