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Meralco to source 1,500-MW renewable power in next 5 years

MANILA Electric Co. (Meralco) plans to draw on renewable energy (RE) sources for 1,500 megawatts (MW) of its power needs in the next five years as the firm ramps up the construction of utility-scale renewables plants, a company official said on Tuesday.

“We aim to accelerate our transition to cleaner energy as we pledge to source 1,500 MW of power requirements from renewable energy sources in the next five years,” Meralco Chief Executive Officer and President Ray C. Espinosa said during the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting held virtually on Tuesday.

“We are also committed to building up to 1,500 MW in utility scale renewable energy power plants in the next five to seven years,” he added.

This comes about two weeks after Meralco PowerGen Corp. (MGen) said that its subsidiary had begun commercially operating a 50-MW solar plant in San Miguel, Bulacan after receiving clearance from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). MGen is the renewable energy arm of Meralco.

On Tuesday, the Meralco official also gave updates on the firm’s sustainability initiatives, which include shifting to electric vehicles to serve its business centers in the capital and upgrading its distribution transformers to run on plant-based oil.

“We are moving towards the electrification of Meralco’s vehicle fleet. Beginning this year, we will deploy electric pickups, vans, cars and motorcycles to serve our Metro Manila business centers,” he said.

Mr. Espinosa said the firm is building up its “Race to Zero Waste Program,” which will cover its distribution network as well.

“Going forward, one hundred percent of our new distribution transformers will be powered by plant-based natural ester oil, making these assets 99% recyclable and biodegradable,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Espinosa said a “bill shock” is not likely to happen amid varying lockdowns imposed by authorities.

“We do not expect the same bill shock problem that we encountered last year. In fact, even with the declaration of ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) and MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine), our meter readers have been able to read the meters and use this meter readings for the proper billing,” he said, referring to the strick lockdowns that authorities placed over the capital and nearby areas.

He added that the firm is grateful to the Energy department, the Energy Regulatory Commission and partner local government units for allowing Meralco to deploy its meter readers during this period.

In May last year, the country’s largest distribution utility said that the bill shock reflected on customers’ accounts was caused by the hike in electricity charges computed based on the actual consumption in kilowatt-hours from the current meter reading, plus the estimated consumption reflected in the deferred April and March bills.

Meralco previously said that its consolidated core net income in the first quarter declined by 11% to P5.11 billion year on year as energy sales from the commercial sector slumped due to the impact of the pandemic.

However, its attributable net income for the quarter ending March, stood at P4.33 billion, higher by around 65% from P2.62 billion in the same period last year.

Shares in Meralco at the local bourse improved by 0.59% or P1.6 to close at P274 apiece on Tuesday.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT, Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Angelica Y. Yang

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